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Brazilian Cinema

Hector Babenco

Carandiru

(Longtime director in Brazilian cinema, and
for some time in Hollywood; born in Argentina)

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Carandiru

Carandiru (DVD)
Carandiru (VHS)
directed by Hector Babenco
(2004)

The setting is grim, but Carandiru is easily one of Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco's most living, thriving works, with scores of powerful performances and an engaging style underscoring the cathartic power of storytelling. Based on a bestselling novel, Carandiru concerns an oncologist (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos) who treats patients at Sao Paulo's House of Detention, a terrible place largely policed from within by longtime prisoners. The doctor is specifically interested in collecting blood samples for an HIV study, but the more prisoners open up to him, the more compassionate and committed he becomes about their survival. Babenco's episodic structure gives Carandiru a dimension of memory and constant shots of energy, so that even the most horrifying events--drug-related murder, rape, revenge--can't drive this tale into abject misery. Based on actual events, the drama's climactic police raid on the prison (a reconstruction of a 1992 riot called the Carandiru Massacre) is a tour de force. --Tom Keogh


Pixote

Pixote (DVD)
directed by Hector Babenco
(1981)
limited availability
 

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