Help me forge our history!

Deep down in the wilderness of Brazil’s tropical forest stands an enormous steel empire, meticulously crafted by the mysterious Colônia Luxemburguesa.

One hundred years ago, the Luxembourg-based steel giant Arbed – today ArcelorMittal – inaugurated its Brazilian subsidiary called Companhia Siderúrgica Belgo Mineira in the heart of the State of Minas Gerais. At that time, the lack of qualified workforce provoked a massive movement of hundreds of Luxembourgish migrants to Brazil in order to erect a colossal steel plant and its surrounding industrial city, giving birth to the cradle of the Brazilian steel industry.

While searching for her own identity, Luxembourg-Brazilian filmmaker and historian Dominique makes a fateful discovery as she comes across João Monlevade, an incredible and oddly familiar tropical version of the industrial south of Luxembourg she grew up in. This staggering revelation pulls her into a fascinating quest behind the curtains of the mythical stories of the Colônia Luxemburguesa. What is this Colônia like? Was it a success story of integration into the Brazilian society - a success story at all? 

This transmedia project pulls us into the nucleus of the Colônia Luxemburguesa and invites us to unearth one century of shared industrial, cultural and social heritage together.

A Colônia Luxemburguesa is an interactive experience and discovery journey in which, strained between myth and history, we are confronted with many stories told from various angles and across different platforms. What is behind Belgo Mineira’s corporate storytelling? Are we able to find truth in the midst of all those divergent stories?

This transdisciplinary project is being developed in the framework of Dominique’s doctoral research. It is a cutting-edge Digital Public History experiment involving the creative use of digital technology, transdisciplinary co-design techniques and public engagement. Through this unprecedented collaboration between the University of Luxembourg (C2DH), Samsa Film and the CNA, we are creating new synergies between scientific research and the world of film and new media.

With this 360° transmedia project, whose narrative transcends various mediums and platforms, we graciously combine on the one hand our project website with an interactive documentary and an online crowdsourcing platform with, on the other hand, two physical and fully participatory platforms called [L]aço kiosks, located in Luxembourg and in Brazil. The word play [L]aço (laço=tie ; aço=steel) literally means ties of steel. Its main purpose is to unearth transatlantic steel ties woven together over a century in collaboration with the communities themselves. It is the mutual exchange – this trading zone between the communities and our various platforms – that progressively draws the puzzling portrait of this Colônia Luxemburguesa.