I think Nelson Muntz put it best when he said ‘Society blows’. It’s certainly difficult to disagree after sitting through this two hour documentary which asks a lot of questions, and realises that there are no easy answers.It tells the story of an ex street kid from the slums of Brazil whose bus robbery went awry and turned into a farcical hostage situation. Due to the almost complete failure of the under-trained and under-funded Brazilian police force to contain the incident, he was given a bloodthirsty audience of spectators and news crews for the duration of the day-long stand off.
The story, told through a mixture of live footage, police interviews and accounts from the hostages is interspersed with insightful testimony from various social workers and sociologists who only confirm that this situation is only the tip of a huge and desperate iceberg. As the depths of these deep rooted social ills are revealed, you are drawn further and further into the world of a desperate man who has had to live through the murder of his mother and the massacre of his friends. Instead of being counselled or helped to deal with his trauma, he is jailed, beaten and shunned by society to the point where he and his peers are invisible.
Quite obviously low budget, the entire thing feels like an incredibly cheap cross between 999 and Crimewatch. It would actually feel a little silly were it not for the harrowing subject nature.
As you watch, you struggle to keep up with considering the subject matter as more and more contributing factors are thrown at you. What starts off as a simple hostage situation seemingly instigated by a desperate man quickly escalates into a symbolic stand against a massively intricate system of oppression. What is even more saddening is that nothing has changed once the credits has rolled so there is nothing to stop an equally desperate reject from society from doing exactly the same thing. Maybe a man with a bit more conviction who will lead the situation to a far bloodier showdown.Despair is the only real emotion that gets an airing during the two hour running time. Be it his, yours, or that of an entire country; despair is the only emotion that survives the social thunderstorm that exists in Brazil today. Definitely one to see, but you might want to have a Farrelly Brothers movie in backup; just to keep that toaster away from the bath.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.