Introduction Dealing with drugs, guns and thugs all under the age of 10 is not new to the inhabitants of “City of God” but can be shocking and intense for someone who pictures Brazil with just wild beaches, carnivals and fun. The ‘City of God’ is a slum of some 200,000 occupants on the western edge of Rio de Janeiro…
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The book was written by Paulo Lins, who was born in 1958 in Estacio, a black district of Rio, close to the docks; and later was rehoused in the City of God after the disastrous floods of 1966 (Lamnews, 2004). Living in the broken city with almost no infrastructure, Paulo experienced the dark side of the favela – the local gangsters, drug dealers, murders and thefts. The book was later turned into a feature film in 2003 that was critically acclaimed around the world, was nominated for four Academy Awards and gave a deep insight on the burning issue in Latin America – youth violence, crime and drugs (Oliveira, 2009). This write-up attempts to analyze the movie Cidade de Deus (City of God) in the historical and present context of youth violence and crime in Latin America. The Story of Cidade de Deus (2003) The movie "City of God" opens with a frantic chicken escaping slaughter hounded by a gang of pistol-packing prepubescents. The chase leads the protagonist, photojournalist Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) in the middle of a proxy gunfight between the gangsters and the police. In a way, the first scene depicts the essence of the movie where Rocket is finding his ground between his two worlds. The movie unearths the decline of “City of God” over the span of 15 years, from a sunbaked ghetto of earth-colored houses having children playing soccer games and petty thievery in front yards into a sinister slum swarming with armed adolescent gangsters dealing in cocaine and murders. In the middle of this change, Rocket narrates his life in the slum, a child of the 60s; he witnesses barbarity, greed, rape and revenge that fuel a catastrophic gang war. The movie is split into three chapters, each drearier and more horrendous than the one before; narrating through parallels, the interweaving destinies of Rocket and his childhood playmates, Li'l Dice (Douglas Silva) who changes his name upon growing up to Li'l Ze (Leandro Firmino da Hora) – an ultra-violent, psychotic, drug-dealing socio-path. In the 70s, Li’l Ze’s only link to humanity is his lieutenant Benny (Phillipe Haagensen) whose murder leads him to be even more ferocious. Apart from dealing in hard drugs and combating with other gangs and police, Li'l Ze also “grooms” pre-teenagers (“Runts”) by supplying weapons and making them snoopers. A decade later, Li'l Ze's finds his empire threatened by the very Runts who rebel against his authority. It all builds up to a shootout between Li'l Ze and a rival gang leader Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge), a peaceable bus-fare collector turned avenger after Li'l Ze rapes his girlfriend and shoots his brother. Rocket, on the other hand, despite living in the middle of violence, escapes from the criminal life through his passion for photography. His sensational photo of Li'l Ze and his posse ends up on the front page of a newspaper. Surprisingly, Rocket is encouraged by the publicity-hungry thug to be his court photographer. Most of the movie's final bloodbath is witnessed through his camera's lens. The narration of City of God uses many close-up shots, extreme close-up shots and flash backs making the movie very gripping. Gangs and Crime in Latin America Youth gangs are among the core features of the landscape of violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Known by many names, pandillas, maras, bandas, galeras, quadrilhas, barras, chapulines, they are permeating throughout the territory, and are
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