Sunday, May 20, 2012

Paradise Lost: 'City of God' Celebrates Its Decennial

In America, so-called epidemics often give rise to new and interesting artforms.  The crack era produced not only gangsta rap, but “hood” films as well.  The earliest “hood” films were among the most notable and successful.  Memorable though they were, they often exuded a certain level of xenophobia.  They seemed to assume that poverty, racism, and street crime were uniquely American phenomena.  However, a trip to any number of foreign countries quickly proves such notions wrong.  On this very weekend ten years ago, a powerful film revealed just such a place when it premiered at that year’s Cannes Film Festival.  It showed life in a Brazilian favela, and told a generational tale of the criminal factions that warred in its streets.  Its title was Cidade de Deus, but it’s now better known to American viewers by that title’s literal English translation: City of God.