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Tropa de Elite/The Elite Squad

Violence toward the police in Latin America isn’t a crime; it’s 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 it’s 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 Janeiro’s Special Operations Police Battalion. The story follows the squad’s police captian, who’s planning to retire. While looking for his replacement, he’s drawn into a mission that he knows will ignite a war between the police and gangs. He’s 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 didn’t 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 Free.

Fri., March 20, 7:30 p.m., 2009


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