- Title: BRAZIL: Two new movies lift lid on Brazil's dark side
- Date: 8th October 2009
- Summary: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (RECENT) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF ICARAI BEACH WITH RIO DE JANEIRO IN THE BACKGROUND EXTERIOR OF CINEMA SCHOOL BUILDING VARIOUS OF POSTER OF BRAZILIAN FILM "SALVE GERAL" (TIME OF FEAR) VARIOUS OF FILM PROJECTOR DURING SCREENING
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2009 13:00
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Reuters ID: LVACHHUZISMT8D6WG98IL69XOGOC
- Story Text: Brazilians are still celebrating their Olympic bid victory, but two recent films depicting the widespread violence that plagues the South American country reveals what could happen if it fails to solve the issue.
Two very different movies are showing an ugly, violent side of Brazil that many would rather forget as the country prepares to host both the World Cup and the Olympics within the next seven years.
"Salve Geral," Brazil's Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is the first major movie depicting the violence that paralyzed Sao Paulo in May 2006 when a prison gang launched coordinated attacks on South America's largest city.
The orgy of violence unleashed by the First Command of the Capital (PCC) gang left 493 people dead. Forty-three were police but 450 were civilians, many of them shot by police in a brutal response roundly condemned by human rights groups.
The timing of "Salve Geral," whose title refers to the code used by the PCC to start the attacks, has added to its impact. The alleged leader of the PCC went on trial last week accused of ordering the assassination of a judge in 2003.
Some have criticized the film as overly sympathetic to the prisoners, who formed the PCC in the early 1990s to pressure authorities to improve the dismal conditions in Sao Paulo state's overcrowded prisons.
The movie, by Brazilian director Sergio Rezende, tells the story through the fictional experience of a middle-class mother who is drawn into the murky world of the PCC and corrupt prison officials after her son is jailed for murder.
In a debate after a Rio de Janeiro film festival screening, Rezende said his film was about chaos.
"I think this film's theme is lack of control, chaos. This movie's theme is chaos it is like in all instances of the dream of every person and institution of holding control of everything, but this doesn't exist, it's a fallacy. The state, for example, thinks they will control the prisons, the prisoners think they will control themselves, the police thinks they will control the streets, the people believe they will control their feelings, that teacher (film character) thinks she will control her son and that boy thinks he will control his car," he said.
At one point, Rezende's film depicts state officials desperately negotiating with PCC leaders to stop the rampage -- something they have denied doing. In another scene, police shoot dead two youths merely for being on the street during the violence.
Another film is also taking a look at Brazil's dark side.
The documentary "Dancing with the Devil," which premiered at Rio's festival on Sunday, traces the daily lives of three men caught up in the city's violence -- a drug lord, a police officer and an evangelical pastor.
The movie, filmed last year by Oscar-winning British director Jon Blair, is among the most intimate portraits yet of the Rio's long-running drug violence. Unusually, the drug traffickers in the film allowed their faces to be filmed.
Without passing judgment, the film essentially shows the trio trying to survive what one cop describes during one of the police's almost daily raids on slums as "our crazy war."
Blair said many people had questioned the motives behind making a film showing Rio's "violent underbelly," but that Rio state's nearly 6,000 murders a year showed that the city needs to look in the mirror.
"It is a city with a cancer, a cancer of violence which allows nearly 6,000 people in Rio de Janeiro state to be killed every year in homicides which has a further 1,000 people in Rio de Janeiro city who are killed by police every year. When you have a cancer you have a choice. Do you want to go to the doctor and hear the doctor say nothing is wrong or do you want to go and be told 'yes, you have a serious illness, you have a cancer and now that we have identified it we will start to think how to deal with it'. I firmly believe that as a friend of the city, it needs to acknowledge its problem, face up to its problem and then work out how to deal with it and that's the role I hope that my film is contributing towards," he said.
In a poignant scene, one of Rio's most wanted drug lords known as "Tola" speaks with surprising eloquence about how his power and wealth have brought him only paranoia and misery.
"This isn't life," says the trafficker, whose body has been deformed by bullet wounds and who never learned to read. "It is better to eat bread with God than caviar with the devil."
Near the end, a cop weeps after a fellow officer is shot in the head by traffickers and we learn that the film's central drug lord "Spiderman" was killed by police this year. Police said they killed him in self defense, while slum residents said he was executed by officers as he begged for his life.
His place is immediately taken by a new drug boss.
Officials who campaigned for the Olympics have downplayed Rio's security problems and some commentators expressed outrage last week when the New Yorker magazine published an article on Rio's violence days before the Olympic host-city vote.
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