Writer: Jose Padilha
Director: Jose Padilha and Filipe Lacerda
Gross (USA): $216 158
on july 12, 2000 the rio de janeiro police trapped a man who was trying to rob a bus. he took eleven hostages, and the local swat team was called.
this incident became known in brazil as the Bus 174 affair.
and so begins the great documentary Bus 174. there is so much to say about this powerful film, but where to begin?
while the hostage taking is the centerpiece of the movie, this film is about so much more then that one incident. it is about the rio police department, the brazilian prison system and about the street kids, or as some refer to them, the invisible ones.
the hostage taker, sandro do nascimento was 8-years-old when he witnessed his mothers murder. shortly after that incident, and with no other family, he ran away and began living on the streets. he met many other street kids and for the next 13 or 14 years lived on the streets, did drugs, was in and out of detentions and other facilities, tried to get his life together and then ended up on bus 174 with a gun and 11 hostages.
the film does an excellent job of delving into sandro's past as well as looking at the general issue of street kids in brazil. the way they are treated by the public and the cops and the systemic issues that do very little to try and build these kids up and make a change - the candelaria massacre in which eight street kids were murdered by a group of men and police officers (62 others survived the night time attack) is an incident that is brought up in the film as an example of how these kids are viewed in society (many people actually thought it was a good thing and a much needed cleaning up of the city).
The film uses interviews with some of the hostages, reporters, police and swat personal to tell the story, along with very powerful footage of the actual incident that was broadcast live throughout the country and probably elsewhere as well. - watching sandro hold a coked and loaded gun to a hostages head and yell out the window to the police that he is going to kill her in a few moments is terrifying and like he even says on a few occasions, "this is not an action movie. this is serious shit bro"
i went into the viewing of the movie not knowing anything about the actual events so for me part of my experience was trying to figure out how it would all end. and, while i could obviously predict a few things, the way it all went down was shocking and jaw-dropping. the final moments play out as if they were written by a hollywood scribe, but yet it is all how it really happened.
Bus 174 is also a very well edited, well shot and well made film (there are some really nice visual fly-over shots of the city, and the actual hostage footage is used very well). This is a must see film that will make you sad, angry and scared. and once you remember to see it, it is not a film you will soon forget