:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::

Bus 174

from www.bus174.com

I saw this brilliant Brazilian documentary a couple of days ago. A 21 year old is caught on a bus in Rio as he tries to rob the passengers. He takes the passengers hostage and a siege begins. The horrifying hours that follow are recorded by the media who surround the bus. The incompetent and corrupt cops, the terrified passengers, the increasingly erratic and unpredictable hostage-taker who the police dub 'sergio'.

His name isn't Sergio it's Sandro and the film-makers take us on a horrifying trip through his life of poverty and brutality on the streets of Rio. A street kid since age 5 who saw his mother murdered in front of him. A survivor of an attack on a group of children sleeping rough, an attack which saw 8 of his friends die, gunned down by police. A survivor of Brazil's prison system, where 30 inmates share a cell built for 10 in conditions that can only be described as nightmarish.

The contrast between the beauty of Rio, it's super-rich with their huge houses and beach lifestyle and the appalling reality of the poverty on the streets is a sharp one. A divided society with a powerless and invisible underclass existing in a world of glue, cocaine and violent crime.

The ending couldn't be more shocking - and encapsulates the corruption, brutality and underfunded incompetence of the Brazilian cops.

Bus 174 website

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