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Bus 174 (15)



Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of. Interview with director José Padilha; Additional interviews with sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares, social worker Yvonne Bezerra, Julieta do Nascimento (Sandro do Nascimento's maternal aunt) and an anonymous professional robber; Assistant director Alexandre Lima's Social Frontiers Photography Exhibition; Trailer; Previews of other Metrodome releases; Scene selection.

LIKE The Agronomist, which came out a couple of weeks ago, this is another fine documentary, but this time the subject is a poor boy from the favelahs of Rio, rather than a crusading journalist from Haiti.

Bus 174 is actual footage of the events that ensued when, on June 12, 2000, a teenage street-kid, Sandro, decided to hijack a bus and hold its passengers hostage for four and a half hours - all of which was captured on TV.

The facts behind the film are familiar ones for anyone familiar with life among the underclasses of Latin America.

Sandro, orphaned when his mother was brutally murdered before his eyes, had been living rough since his early teens and had become part of a gang of homeless kids, who lived in the area around a church in the centre of Rio de Janeiro.

These children had become his family, and so when some of them were brutally murdered by the police, Sandro took out his anger and frustration on the general public.

He took over the bus and used the siege that followed to publicise the fate of his former friends.

Around the TV footage, director Jose Padhila uses interviews with some of Sandro's former friends and family, to describe the brutal chain of events that had driven Sandro to take such desperate action.

Some of the interviewees speak affectionately of Sandro, and tell of his ambition to leave the streets behind and lead a normal life, even
though, being illiterate, he had little real hope of doing so.

Others boast of their own violent past and applaud Sandro's actions, saying that for them, whose own lives are considered worthless by the authorities, there was no question of feeling pity for the plight of the hostages.

Running parallel, we hear testimony from police officers involved in the siege, who say that the whole thing was terribly mis-handled by the government who, knowing that the siege was taking place in front of the eyes of the world, and keen to avoid anything that smacked of brutality, told the police to hold off attacking the bus and 'taking out' Sandro, even though they had plenty of chances to do so.

The end result is a fascinating, riveting insight into the workings of a society, where human life is cheap and the police can literally get away
with murder, because no one has the nerve to take them on.

Go watch this film, and the next time you feel like you're having a hard day, think about what millions of people, like Sandro, have to live through every minute of their lives.

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