In 2002, Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles’ City of God created a sensation that resulted in a triumphant screening at Cannes, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign-Language Film and four Academy Award nominations. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the film’s original Brazilian release, filmmakers Cavi Borges and Luciano Vidigal tracked down members of the cast to recall their participation in the production and the impact it had on their lives.
For American viewers, the most familiar person here is probably Alice Braga, whose supporting role as a drug dealer’s girlfriend helped her gain access to Hollywood roles in such flicks as I Am Legend and Repo Men. Also present is Seu Jorge, who played a killer in the 2002 film and later played Pelé dos Santos in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Some of the other cast members interviewed for this film gained some degree of local stardom in acting or music, while others drifted away from show business into less glamorous work. (Meirelles abstained from participating in this endeavor.)
This is a well-made and, at 70 minutes, perfectly packaged tribute. However, anyone approaching this documentary should have seen City of God in order to appreciate what is being presented, and it also helps to understand the intricacies of Brazil’s racial and economic problems in order to appreciate what is being presented here. Otherwise, much of what is on the screen will be rather confusing