one of the most important films of Brazilian cinema turns 20 years old

In addition to the huge success made in Brazil, the feature won four Oscar nominations, in addition to occupying second place in the ranking of foreign films (outside the Hollywood axis) most watched in the world.

Fernando Meirelles’ film was critically acclaimed, receiving four Oscar nominations. Photo: Publicity / Globo Filmes

By Sérgio Madruga

On this 30th of August, exactly 20 years ago, “God’s city” reached movie theaters all over Brazil. This, which is one of the most important films in the history of national cinema, remains in the memory of spectators, being successful around the world.

The film is an adaptation of the 1997 book of the same name, written by Paulo Lins, and is directed by Fernando Meireles, with co-direction by Kátia Lund. It was produced by O2 Filmes, Globo Filmes and VideoFilmes, with distribution by Lumière Brasil. In cinemas, the film took over three million viewers to commercial rooms.

The plot tells the story of the growth of organized crime in Cidade de Deus, a favela located in Rio de Janeiro, which began to take shape in the 1960s. Buscapé, a poor young black man, who grows up in this universe permeated by violence in the Carioca community, is frightened by the possibility of becoming a bandit. So Buscapé uses his talent as a photographer, looking for opportunities outside that reality. However, he ends up being in charge of closely recording all the reality lived within the community. Through Buscapé’s eyes and lens, spectators follow everything that happens in Cidade de Deus, its joys, sorrows and tragedies.

“City of God” revealed an impeccable cast, much of it made up of novice actors, but who stood out for their on-screen performances. Names like Leandro Firmino da Hora, Douglas Silva, Alexandre Rodrigues, Roberta Rodrigues, Babu Santana, Darlan Cunha, Alice Braga, Seu Jorge, Phellipe Haagensen, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Graziella Moretto and Micael Borges, made the feature one of the milestones of the Brazilian audiovisual.

At the 2003 Brazilian Cinema Grand Prix, it won six awards: Best Film, Best Director (Fernando Meirelles), Best Adapted Screenplay (Bráulio Mantovani), Best Cinematography (César Charlone), Best Sound (Guilherme Ayrosa, Paulo Ricardo Nunes, Alessandro Laroca , Alejandro Quevedo, Carlos Honc, Roland Thai, Rudy Pi and Adam Sawelson) and Best Editing (Daniel Rezende). Among the many other awards that the film won, it is essential to highlight the four nominations for the 2004 Oscars: Best Director (Fernando Meirelles), Best Adapted Screenplay (Bráulio Mantovani), Best Editing (Daniel Rezende) and Best Cinematography (César Charlone).

Recently, the language platform Preply, announced that “City of God” is the second most watched non-English language film in the world, behind only “The Untouchables” (French), followed by “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain” (French) in third place. The ranking was made based on data from IMDb, which is excellence in information about cinema and television.

In 2013, the documentary “City of God – 10 years later” was released, directed by Cavi Borges and Luciano Vidigal. The production shows how those involved in the film were after a decade of release. Despite the huge public and critical success, “Cidade de Deus” did not promote an effective change in the lives of all the actors and crew of the feature, showing how living art in Brazil is difficult, especially if you come from the periphery.

“City of God” is available for streaming on Paramount+ and Globoplay.

City of God is the second most watched non-American film in the world

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