City of God (2002, Fernando Meirelles)
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a Brazilian crime film directed by Fernando
Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and
worldwide in 2003.
It was adapted by BráulioMantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by
Paulo Lins. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio
de Janeiro, between the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '80s, with the closure of
the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li'lZé and criminal Knockout Ned.
The tagline is "Fight and you'll never survive... Run and you'll never escape."
The cast includes AlexandreRodrigues, Leandro FirminodaHora, Jonathan Haagensen,
Douglas Silva, Alice Braga and Seu Jorge. Most of the actors were, in fact, residents of
favelas such as Vidigal and the Cidade de Deus itself.
Meirelles and Lund went on to create the City of Men TV series and film City of Men,
which share some of the actors (notably leads Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha) and
their setting with City of God.
Kátia Lund (co-director)
Buena Vista International
August 30, 2002
(Brazilian Real) $ 8,5 million
City of Men
On the City of God bonus DVD, it is revealed that the only professional actor with years
of filming experience was MatheusNachtergaele, who played the supporting role of
Carrot. Most of the remaining cast were from real-life favelas, and in some cases, even
the real-life City of God favela itself. From initially about 2000, about a hundred children
and youths were hand-picked and placed into an "actors' workshop" for several months.
In contrast to more traditional methods (e.g. studying theatre and rehearsing), it focused
on simulating authentic street war scenes, such as a hold-up, a scuffle, a shoot-out etc.
A lot came from improvisation, as it was thought better to create an authentic, gritty
atmosphere. This way, the inexperienced cast soon learned to move and act naturally.
Appropriately, the film ends eavesdropping on the machinations of the "Runts" as they
assemble their death list. The real gang "CaixaBaixa" (Low Gang) is rumored to have
composed such a list.
After filming, the crew could not leave the cast to return to their old lives in the favelas.
Help groups were set up to help those involved in the production to build more promising
The film was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. In Brazil,
City of God garnered the largest audience for a domestic film in 2002, with over 3.1
million tickets sold, and a gross of 18.6 million reals ($10.3 million). The film also
grossed over 7 million dollars in the U.S. and over 27 million worldwide
City of God received impressive positive acclaim from major publications in the United
States, gathering 92% of favourable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Empire chose it as
the 177th best film of all time in 2008, and Time chose it as one of the 100 greatest
movies of all time. Critic Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star review, writing "'City of
God' churns with furious energy as it plunges into the story of the slum gangs of Rio de
Janeiro. Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a
new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles. Remember the name. The
film has been compared with Scorsese's "GoodFellas," and it deserves the comparison.
Scorsese's film began with a narrator who said that for as long as he could remember he
wanted to be a gangster. The narrator of this film seems to have had no other choice."
According to the Internet Movie Database, City of God won fifty-five awards and
received another twenty-nine nominations. Among those:
* Nominated: Best Director (Fernando Meirelles)
* Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay (BraulioMantovani)
* Nominated: Best Cinematography (César Charlone)
* Nominated: Best Film Editing (Daniel Rezende)