On the afternoon of June 12, 2000, a bus on route 174 was hijacked by a gun toting homeless young man who was trying to rob the passengers. Traffic cameras were recording the event, but very soon a media scrum emerged and every second of the five-hour ordeal was recorded on tape. But the cameras only recorded the events at the time, not the context or the background of the young man's tragic, if not unique Rio de Janeiro story.

A powerful insight into an indifferent society.

Feature documentaries are certainly coming into their own on the big screen. After The Fog of War and Capturing the Friedmans comes an eye-opening film from Brazil, Bus 174.

In June 2000, a young man, in a botched attempt to rob a bus in an affluent neighbourhood of Rio de Janiero, held the passengers hostage in a stand-off that was to last nearly five hours. He was Sandro do Nascimento. And while the filmmakers, Jose Padilha and Marcos Prado use extensive and amazing footage of the siege, they probe the story of Sandro's life that led to this moment. He was a young man who, as a child, had witnessed his mother's murder, whose father was unknown, who'd taken to the streets of Rio at an early age, surviving with hundreds of others. He'd been present at an infamous massacre of streetkids by the police, been to gaol, taken to drugs... his moment of confrontation with society as he prowls the bus, threatening the few remaining passengers is used to highlight the ills of his country.

This revealing documentary is a worthy successor to films like Pixote and City of God. The street kids are invisible to the more affluent members of Brazil society as is their treatment by the police. The gaols are execrable, the situation intolerable. The film interviews Sandro's family and friends, the police, gaol wardens, social workers to illuminate just one of many lives gone terribly awry. It also highlights the complete incapability of the police to deal with the situation. While the film certainly makes its point it takes its time doing so and is occasionally less than clear in its exposition. However, it offers powerful insight into a society indifferent to one of its major problems and the vastly unsatisfactory methods of dealing with it.

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1 hour 55 min