Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) angers Brazilian police
The Brazilian film Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad) has already been receiving a lot of press, mostly thanks to the Brazilian police who have been trying to stop the film from receiving its first screening at the Rio Film Festival this week.
Even before the film was seen in public a copy had been stolen during post-production and pirated, with the hype of the anti-police feeling and the messages it carried against many groups within the country, it was guaranteed an audience.
The film is a fictional one, so it's surprising that it has caused so much controversy, but it becomes apparent when the plot is revealed, and when you realise that the Director, José Padilha, based the film on interviews with real police officers.
It tells the story of two honest policemen who are disheartened working in the standard police force, a force that is underpaid, poorly equipped, and filled with corruption. They decide to leave the standard force and join the Special Operations Battalion, called BOPE, their officers are highly trained and painted as incorruptible, however they discover that they torture and murder suspect for information.
However it's not just police that the film hits out at, Reuters through Yahoo News tells us that it calls into question the social groups who work in the slums, the upper classes who fund crime through their drug habits, and the growing gulf between the rich and the poor which the society propagates.
The Director is firm to point out that this is not a vindication of the methods of the police, methods which some people think are acceptable in the face of growing organised and violent crime.
According to the story Rio police have been criticised for some time for their inhumane tactics, something I had heard little of before this story.
Filming was tough for that very reason, Padilha says that the police would try to stop filming and only intervention from the government allowed them to continue, then the only problem came from the criminal gangs themselves...
“We had part of the crew kidnapped, guns stolen, police raiding the slum, that almost killed the film and our costs soared.”
The film is a bleak view of law and crime in Brazil, but it is one that the Director and many supporters want to be told and seen, as he says himself:
“The film shows that the game has no winners when played under the current rules.”
You can find out more about the film from the official Brazilian site. There's only one trailer for the moment, but it does look like a powerful one.
For those of you in the know, the Director José Padilha is also responsible for the superb Ônibus 174 (Bus 174) (Filmstalker review), a film that tells a similar sorry tale of the lost children of Rio with some amazing real life footage of a bus kidnapping. It's a superbly crafted documentary and a very powerful film.
For me, knowing that the talent behind that film has crafted Tropa de Elite means I'm desperate to see the film. If you're in Rio, get to see that first screening.