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bus 174

bus 174 is a documentary about a bus hijack that took place in rio de janeiro on june 12, 2000 (on my birthday!!). it contains footage of the actual event as filmed by rio news stations and interviews with family and friends of the hijacker, a street kid named sandro nascimento, who ironically kept saying to the police and the tv cameras that, "this is not a movie, this is real," as though he's desperate in telling the audience to see him and really grasp the fact that this is reality, not just another meaningless part of a tv program. not something you watch for entertainment and then forget the next second.

he is proof of this other part of life which existence we don't want to acknowledge. when we walk on the street and see those homeless people lying or standing there on the corner or on a storefront, occasionally asking for money, we either ignore them or get irritated. but mostly we don't see them at all, as if they're some permanent fixtures of the street who are not living, breathing human beings with needs.

and yet, what separate us from these kids? just because we happen to be fortunate enough to be born into a family who don't live in the slum or under a bridge. something we totally have no control over. it certainly doesn't entitle us to think we are better than them. we could've been born into someone like sandro. so what rights do we have to condemn street kids like them, to ignore their hunger and blame them for stealing? they didn't have any choice other than to live their lives like they know how. just to survive day by day.

we might never know what it feels like not to have a home and a family. we take for granted the convenience of sleeping in a bedroom, of having our own bed, a tv set, table and chairs, a kitchen where we can cook instant noodles if we want to. these things that seem simple, and yet remain so unreachable to a lot of people out there. we don't know how it feels to sleep on cold concrete while dreaming about a shelter we can't have. we're never forced to steal because we are hungry. we don't know how it feels not to have enough money to buy food. or how it feels to be cramped with 10 other people in a small, rat-infested dirty cell in rio and got beaten up everyday. we don't have the slightest idea of how it feels to see 7 of our friends got shot to death while sleeping, or to see our mother stabbed to death in the kitchen.

we don't know how it feels to be standing there on a crowded corner and be completely ignored by passers-by as though we're not human, as though we're invisible, as though our existence don't matter, as though it's our fault that we're born in poverty.

(taken from here):

The new documentary BUS 174 unravels the gripping true-life drama of a June 12, 2000 bus hijacking in Rio de Janeiro from the events that shaped the hijackers life, to the unprecedented, close-up press coverage that occurred at the time, to the aftermath of the way the police handled the incident. This unnerving event unfolded for four and a half hours, as a dozen people were held at gunpoint, police surrounded the bus, and local news crews swarmed the area. Most of the incident was broadcast live over network TV and the country ground to a halt as people watched, terrified and enthralled.

At first, the reports characterized the hijacker, Sandro, as a drugged-out punk, but after the police hopelessly botched the situation, a deeper investigation revealed some startling facts about this troubled youth. Not only had he been one of Rios infamous street kids (fictionally portrayed this year in the acclaimed film, City of God) but, as a young child, he had witnessed his mothers murder and gone on to be one of the few survivors of a notorious police-led massacre of homeless kids in 1992. Filled with confusion and rage, Sandro tried to find his way in life but was repeatedly brought down by a system that couldnt understand him.

BUS 174 tells two parallel stories as it interweaves the unbelievable news footage with current interviews with the police, hostages, social workers, academics, and friends and family of Sandro. Not only does it explain the dramatic events that unfolded as the police tried, and failed, to handle the hijack situation; but it also tells the amazing life story of the hijacker, revealing how a typical Rio de Janeiro street kid was transformed into a violent criminal because society systematically denied him any kind of social existence. It seems callous to call this documentary a thriller because it involves a very real-life situation and real victims but it certainly could hold its own against anything the minds of a David Fincher or even an Alfred Hitchcock could dish out.

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