Archive of films City of God / Cidade de Deus

Brazil / France / USA
2002, 135 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2003

A raw, poetic drama inspired by real events which, through the eyes of a small boy, portrays the painful and bloody history of the drug scene in the oldest and most dangerous district of Rio de Janeiro. This adaptation of Paul Lins’ novel won awards at the IFFs in Havana and Toronto. Film editor Daniel Rezendes also received a BAFTA for his work.


A bloody history of the drug scene in the oldest and most dangerous slum in Rio de Janeiro, set between the 1960s and 1980s. Young boys are already playing with guns in the dusty corners of a street called Cidade de Deus. Their examples, whom they try to emulate, are older friends from criminal street gangs. Whoever was born in the local favelas will also die here – probably sooner rather than later, and it will be a violent death. Buscapé is growing up in a truly brutal environment and, until he sees his friends through his camera lens for the first time, he has no idea that it might lead to his salvation. The idea of “another optical solution” becomes the means to transform himself from “actor” to observer: horrified, compassionate and unable to close his eyes before a hopeless world. This tough poetic drama inspired by Paul Lins’ autobiographical novel became the most successful film at the Havana IFF in 2002. The film won the Vision Award at the Toronto IFF and the Audience Prize at the AFI FEST; it was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Film and its director was nominated for the Felix European Film Prize. Film editor Daniel Rezendes won a BAFTA for his work. 

About the director

Fernando Meirelles (b. 1955, Sao Paulo) began to make experimental video films for his own company, Olhar Electronico, while studying architecture. He first became established in television as a producer and director of advertising spots. His short film Golden Gate (Palace II) (2002) was inspired by the autobiographical novel by Paul Lins, Cidade de Deus. Working with director Kátia Lund (who worked on the film Central Station (Central do Brasil), and fired by the success of this highly acclaimed, intense drama about two boys who decide to make money by selling drugs, he initiated a feature project combining his true desire for authenticity with a refined sense for visual experiment. An admirer of Tarantino and Scorsese, he chose violence as the key theme of his film, “filtered” on screen through camera images.  


SPI International Czech Republic
Branicka 1950/209, 140 00, Praha 4
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 261 216 318
Fax: +420 261 221 375
E-mail: [email protected]

O2 Productions
Avenue Prof. Fonseca Rodrigues 1300, 05461-010, Sao Paolo
Tel: +55 11 302 694 00
Fax: +55 11 302 291 29
E-mail: [email protected]

Wild Bunch
65 rue de Dunkerque, 75009, PARIS
Tel: +33 143 132 130
Fax: + 33 1 431 321 30
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Screenplay: Bráulio Mantovani, Paulo Lins
Dir. of Photography: César Charlone
Music: Ed Cortes, Antonio Pinto
Editor: Daniel Rezende
Producer: Mauricio Andrade Ramos, Andrea Barata Ribeiro
Production: O2 Productions
Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Jonathan Haagensen, Daniel Zettel, Phelipe Haagensen, Luís Odtavil
Contact: SPI International Czech Republic, O2 Productions, Wild Bunch


Ivana Vrbíková

Producer, Producer


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