Bus 174 Review

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This documentary looks at a young man who took a bus full of people hostage in Rio de Janeiro in 2000. The entire incident was broadcast on live TV, becoming a shocking portrait of violence and police incompetence. The film uses footage from that day and new material.


On June 12, 2000, Sandro do Nascimento, a coked-up 21 year-old from the streets of Rio de Janeiro, hijacked bus 174. As police and film crews arrived, the drama unfolded live on TV, scooping Brazil's highest ratings that year; the attitude of the viewing public most likely mimicking that of the onlookers who, at the conclusion, tried to lynch the assailant.

As Padilha's gripping documentary proves, the middle-classes don't care for these kids, with more than half of those polled by a radio station supporting the Candelaria massacre (where the police murdered eight youngsters). It was this massacre that prompted Sandro's actions and - cutting interviews with social workers, cops and street kids, along with visits to Rio's jails, into the actual hijacking - Padilha paints a shocking portrait of the tribulations these children face.

This powerful film offers no excuses for Sandro's actions, but his situation demands our empathy.

If City Of God cracked the skin, Bus 174 digs deep into the wound. An astounding, depressing triumph.