Violence toward the police in Latin America isnt a crime; its an art form. (Remember the new Nuevo Laredo police chief who was killed his first day on the job? And the five police officers who were killed in ten days in Ciudad Juarez?). So its easy to understand why a team like the one in Tropa de Elite/The Elite Squad might seem to be the only answer. A group of elite, paramilitary, black-ops cops who have pretty much free rein so long as they get the desired results, the squad we see in the film is based on the true lives of former officers of Rio de Janeiros Special Operations Police Battalion. The story follows the squads police captian, whos planning to retire. While looking for his replacement, hes drawn into a mission that he knows will ignite a war between the police and gangs. Hes not sure his team will survive, much less win, the confrontation.
The film caused quite a controversy in Brazil during its release two years ago, sparking a national debate on police violence and corruption. At the time, officers tried to keep the film from opening. That didnt work. And after winning acclaim at various film festivals, Tropa is now considered a Brazilian hit. 7:30 p.m. Brazilian Arts Foundation, 1133 East 11th Street. For information, call 713-862-3300 or visit www.brazilianarts.org. Free.
Fri., March 20, 7:30 p.m., 2009