City of God
Although overlooked by the Academy for a Best Foreign Picture nomination, Director Fernando Meirelles' Brazilian slum epic City of God is a profound, stylistically expansive depiction of three decades of child gang warfare on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro with non-actors playing their poverty-ridden lives for the camera. The only other film that approaches City of God's clear-eyed social narrative about the merciless plight of Brazil's downtrodden adolescent underclass is Hector Babenco's Pixote (1981). Set in a real life drug- and violence-ridden housing project called Cidade de Deus (City of God), the story follows two boys who take opposite paths. One chooses to pursue photography while the other becomes a ruthless drug dealer. The film is based on a biographical novel by Paolo Lins, and is greatly influenced by cinematographer Cesar Charlone's dramatic use of anomalous film stocks to emphasize the story's shifting decades. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
(Running time 2:20, rated R)