Manda Bala: Engaging Documentary

When you hear the words “Sao Paolo,” chances are you immediately think of beautiful beaches, exotic women (or men), or– to those seeking a cheaper way to celebrate Mardi Gras Brazilian style– their annual carnival (second only to Rio de Janeiro‘s in popularity and scope). What you may not necessarily think about is corruption, Jader Barbalho, and how Sao Paolo was dubbed in 2002 as the kidnap capital of Brazil.

The movie Manda Bala aims to elucidate on these subject matters and, I must say, does so quite convincingly through a series of interviews, news reels, and some very disturbing ransom videos. They even showed how a renowned plastic surgeon reconstructed a woman’s ear using rib cartilage. Interestingly, the producers even got a “kidnapper” (in ski mask disguise, of course) to share his thoughts about the state of affairs in his country. Depicted as a modern-day “Robin Hood,” this kidnapper, who has ten children, purports to share his stolen wealth with his fellow poor. They also spent a lot of time– in fact, it was the unifying theme in the documentary– rendering politician Jader Barbalho in not too bright a light.

Like most documentaries, it should be known that Manda Bala (a “movie that cannot be shown in Brazil”) contains information on which its producers have selected to focus. They’re not absolute, but they are certainly engaging, intriguing, and may cause you to think twice about visiting a particular South American port-of-call in the future.

Well, at least, not without a bulletproof car.

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