Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)

This documentary about the cycle of violence that plagues the city of San Paolo, Brazil won the 2007 Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize--and it was well-deserved. Produced and directed by newcomer, Jason Kohn, the film offers a compelling narrative which weaves together the stories of a corrupt politician, a kidnap victim who had both ears cut off, a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructing the ears of kidnap victims, a police officer assigned to the special task force for kidnappings, a kidnapper and a frog farmer.

Exploring the interrelations that have created the current climate of fear and retribution, Manda Bala examines the ripple effect that emerges affecting not only the poor and powerless, but the rich and privileged as well. The corrupt politician diverts billions of dollars earmarked to help subsidize and develop the poorest sections of Brazil. Having no way to survive in the poverty-stricken outlying areas of the country, the impoverished population moves into the slums of wealthy San Paolo. It seems there are two classes in San Paolo--the very rich and the very poor. Disenfranchised, with little opportunity for advancement and a need for survival, the poor--taken advantage of by the rich and powerful--retaliate by kidnapping the rich and holding them for ransom.

With a population of 20 million--and a police task force of 80 dedicated to the specific problem of kidnapping, the violent kidnappings continue unabated. This way of life has led to the creation of numerous cottage industries--from plastic surgery to reconstruct body parts chopped off and sent to the victim's families, to bullet-proofing for vehicles, defensive driving courses and even GPS microchips implanted in potential kidnap victims bodies to aid with location and retrieval.

Kohn uses stark and startling imagery to evoke an emotional response to the issue--the dilapidated slums slammed up against the pristine city, the eyes of the kidnapper vs. the eyes of the corrupt politician, the cannibalism of frogs who eat their own kind when there's not enough food to go around. In a country where the rich steal from the poor and in turn the poor steal from the rich, who is the more despicable criminal?

Manda Bala is showing in limited release beginning August 17th.

August 17th

Angelika Film Center, NYC

August 31st

Laemmle's Royal, Los Angeles, CA

Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena, CA

September 14th

Kendall Square Theater, Boston, MA

Ritz at the Bourse, Phildalphia, PA

Angelika Film Center, Houston, TX

September 21st

Landmark Maple Art, Detroit, MI

Landmark Lagoon, Minneapolis, MN

Angelika Film Center, Dallas, TX

September 28th

Landmark Ken Cinema, San Diego, CA

AMC Loews Dupont Circle 5, Washington DC

AMC Loews Pipers Alley, Chicago, IL

AMC Loews Uptown 3, Seattle, WA

October 12th

Regal Village Square 18, Las Vegas, NV

Malco Ridgeway 4, Memphis, TN

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