Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)
Julio DePietro, Mario Kohn, Jason Kohn, Jared Ian Goldman, Joey Frank, Heloisa Passos, Doug Abel, Andy Grieve, Jenny Golden, Coll Anderson
Brazil is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rain forests, and vibrant culture. However, in recent years, the country has developed more of a reputation for corrupt politicians, kidnapping, and plastic surgery. Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) artfully connects these seemingly disparate elements and conducts a dazzling, yet harrowing, examination of the tragic domino effect that has reshaped the face of the country and created an entire industry built on corruption.
From its unlikely opening on a money-laundering frog farm, Manda Bala displays a strikingly distinctive tone. Featuring a stylish score and articulate interviews with kidnappers, kidnap victims, and the people who profit off them, as well as the paranoid people whose lives they impact, it looks and sounds more like a stylized fiction film than a heavy political doc. However, it is never glib or trivial, and always inventive and haunting. It documents Brazilian reality without falling into patronizing clichés and reveals that corruption and kidnapping represent two sides of the same violent crime: the rich steal from the poor people of Brazil, while the poor steal back some of the rich people.
First-time director Jason Kohn shows the influence of his mentor Errol Morris but bravely carves out his own unique style. Manda Bala is an ingenious documentary in the vanguard of what will hopefully be a new wave of documentary filmmaking.