Ônibus 174 (2002, Brazil)
This has been oh-so-often compared to aforementioned City of God, but I like this much better. On June 12, 2000, Sandro di Nascimento hijacked a bus, and for four and a half hours it was broadcasted live all across the country. This incident would be known as Ônibus 174, the hijack never portrayed as anything but a prototypical psychopath with a plan gone wrong.
Padilha used stock footage, interviews and official documents to explain the unfolding of the incident, as well as the story of Sandro: a typical Rio de Janeiro street kid, with learning disabilities, no father, his mother stabbed to death in front of him, living in the streets as the only means of survival from the age of 8, sniffing glue, drugs, stealing. As the film progressed it’s revealed that he was also one of the survivors of “Candelária massacre”, where a group of street kids living in front of a church were shot by the police. (Not that it was rare to find these kids killed at night when they were sleeping, their skulls crushed with bricks by some “cowards”.)
It documents how these kids have nowhere to go, bar corrupted reformatories or prisons unfit for living beings, any social existence systematically denied, and how societies indifferently sweep them under a bloody carpet, without ever caring to address these urgent issues, seemingly oblivious, or just happy to see them annihilated. The situation is not unique: You can see it taking place at any other place, not just Brazil. Sandro isn’t romanticised as some kind of martyr or tragic anti-hero, the film tells the story without any attempts to glorify or simulate tragedies, just showing problems, realities, that we keep ignoring. Highly recommended.