City of God is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film about two boys growing up in the violence of Rio De Janeiro’s favelas, their lives goes different ways: one becomes a photographer and the other a drug dealer. The film was co-directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund, the story was adapted from the 1997 novel by the same name and the plot is based on real life events. The film depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) area of Rio between the end of the ’60s and the beginning of the ’80s.
The 2002 film emerged from a tradition of fictional and non-fictional discussions intended to expose the truth and the nature of urban poverty and extreme violence as seen through the eyes of the population of Rio’s favelas. After its release the film has provoked many, and raised intellectual discussion in the way that it represented this reality, it was critiqued by some theorists of Latin American Cinema as depicting the “cosmetics of hunger” as opposed to the “aesthetics of hunger”. The term “aesthetics of hunger” first appeared as the title to a 1965 manifesto by Brazilian director Glauber Rocha, often referred to as the main spokesperson for the Cinema Novo movement, a “New-Wave” style practiced by filmmakers all over Brazil during the ’50s and ’60s and heavily inspired by elements of Italian Neo-Realism. Rocha emphasized that Latin American films should empower and defend the idea of both national and “imperfect cinema”. It is said that for Rocha, Cinema Novo would reject the glossy conventions of classical Hollywood cinema in favor of real, raw, anti-imperialist and hard-hitting approaches that would speak directly to the local underclass of Brazil.
I really wish we got to see this movie this semester, as we were in fact supposed to. I recommend everyone who has not yet seen it to do so, cause it really is a great movie.