By James Klein
(KPRENSA) In 2002, the Brazilian film “City of God” burst onto the world stage. Based on real facts, it tells the story of the growth of organized crime in the shantytowns (known as “favelas”) on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from the end of the sixties to the beginning of the eighties. The story is told through the eyes of a boy who is only 11 years old when the film begins.
“City of God” received four Oscar nominations in 2004, in the categories of best adapted screenplay, best cinematography, best editing, and best director for the Brazilian Fernando Meirelle.
On February 29th, the new Brazilian film “City of Men” premieres. Produced by Meirelles, and directed by fellow Brazilian Paulo Morelli, the film is a sequel to “City of God” and continues the story of the favelas starting in the eighties.
“City of Men” can be seen in the San Diego area in the followings three theaters: Flower Hills 4 in Del Mar, AMC La Jolla 2, and Hillcrest 5, San Diego.
Learning to be men in the favelas
The story of the sequel centers on Acerola (Douglas Forest) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), two adolescent friends that have practically become brothers growing up in the middle of a world marked by violence and street gangs. On the verge of becoming 18 years old, Laranjinha will go in search of his father, who he does not know, while Acerola tries to educate its own young son. However, the gang warfare of the neighborhood will test the old friendship and will threaten to reveal a secret from the past.
In a recent interview with the Spanish news agency EFE, the director Paolo Morelli said the film centered in the process of maturity of the two young men and their “relationships with their absent parents.”
The absence of the father figure for the majority of children in the favelas is, according to Morelli, “the main motivation” that draws boys from an early age to the leaders of the violent gangs “in whom they see a guide and a powerful person that can give them protection.”
“The two young protagonists are an example that the destiny one is given can be truncated, that one can be freed of the shadow of their father and create a new destiny”, Morelli told EFE.
Success on brazilian television
“City of Men” was born as a Brazilian television series in the wake of the success of Meirelles’ “City of God.” Several of the actors that participated in the television series reprise their roles in the new film, among them, the stars Silva and Cunha. The Brazilian television series is available on DVD in the US.
After the international success of the “City of God” in 2002 its directors, Kátia Lund and Meirelles decided to produce with Globo TV a television series that showed the difficulties of the citizens of the Brazilian favelas, using a pair of friends as the central figures. The friends are the characters of Luis Claudío and Wallace, better known like Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) respectively. The series played for four seasons on Brazilian television (between 2002 and 2005) and showed various stages in the life of the characters, with the problems associated with each stage.
“City of Men” is the culmination of this successful story that captivated a large television audience in Brazil. Those who saw the television series will have more knowledge of the previous history of the central characters, although film-goers do not need prior information to understand the story.
“City of Men” is an excellent film that, more than a story of violence, is a story of friendship and beating the odds.