Sundance Review: Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)
by Alex Billington
February 3, 2007
Manda Bala, the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, is a Brazilian Fahrenheit 9/11 that condemns a corrupt politician and troubled political system in Brazil through referencing kidnappings and scandals. Unlike Chasing Ghosts, the other documentary I saw at Sundance, Manda Bala is very theatrical, very powerful, and very well-made. Now I never want to go to Brazil for fear of being kidnapped or even being caught up in the incredibly corrupt political system.
Although certainly well made, the only issue with Manda Bala is you have to be overly interested in the subject and open to the disturbing content that it uses to tell the story. Director Jason Kohn takes the more indirect route to describe the corrupt nature of Brazil and a particular leader and uses poignant imagery that can be too disturbing to most people, including ear reconstructive surgery and frogs being farmed and prepped for food, although effective in reaching the persuasive conclusion. The most I can say is that some of the most interesting films have come from Brazil and the Brazilian lifestyle, including at least this one and City of God as well as many others. Is it worth going out of your way to go see Manda Bala? Not really - only if you're looking for well-made docs, but that's it.
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