José Padilha – Pure Genius

Most people know José Padilha as simply being the director of Elite Squad I and II, but I consider him a genius of the film industry, not only in Brazil. Few directors manage to capture the soul of individuals, regardless of frontiers, like he does. His characters are real, intense, convincing, likeable, detestable, intriguing but never, ever boring. His films are quick-paced documentary style bombs that keep you strapped to your seat until the very end. It´s a real pity that there is little information in English out there about him, and it´s even more of a pity that Brazilians don´t really seem to value the representative they have. Maybe it´s because he shows a side of Brazil that Brazilians themselves don´t want to see.

Padilha seems to be on a mission, and that is to express and show on film the things that upset him, like the corruption, extreme poverty and lawlessness that weighs Brazil down like a ton of Jurassic bricks. While everyone is ecstatic about the way Brazil is growing and “lifting off”, he insists on being the nagging reminder of the way life really is.

In addition to Elite Squad, films directed by Padilha include:

Garapa, a documentary about extreme poverty in Brazil. To make this documentary, he travelled to Ceará, one of Brazil´s poorest regions, and almost randomly selected families pointed out to him by local NGOs. He then filmed the daily lives of these families for a few months.

Bus 174, a documentary film about Sandro Barbosa do Nascimento, a boy who survived the Chacina of Candelaria (the massacre in which 8 street kids that slept at the steps of the Nossa Senhora da Candelaria Church in Rio were killed by a death squad, some of which were members of the police). The documentary shows the events of his life that lead to the hijacking of bus 174, where Sandro was the sole perpetrator.

Secrets of a Tribe
The field of anthropology goes under the magnifying glass in this fiery investigation of the seminal research on Yanomami Indians. In the 1960s and ’70s, a steady stream of anthropologists filed into the Amazon Basin to observe this “virgin” society untouched by modern life. Thirty years later, the events surrounding this infiltration have become a scandalous tale of academic ethics and infighting. Written by Sundance Film Festival

He next film with be “o Corruptólogo” (provisional name that means something like, ‘the expert in corruption’) about the dark goings on of the Brazilian National Congress.

He is also set to direct the remake of Robocop.


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