In most cities, the higher you go, the richer the occupants. Whether it's up a hillside or to the penthouse of a building, the view comes with a price tag. But not in Rio de Janeiro. There, due to historical circumstance, the impoverished sections of the city, known as favelas, are often perched precariously on the steep slopes above the wealthier quarters, which hug the coastline.
But in "City of God" nobody in the eponymous neighborhood has time to take in the vista — they're too busy trying to survive a vicious gang war waged by teenagers. The reason none of the gang members mature to adulthood is because they die too young.
Instead of toting a gun, the hero of the film, a boy named Rocket, picks up a camera and begins documenting the tragic violence around him. Rocket survives and his art becomes his ticket out of the favela.
Directed by Fernando Meirelles and based on true events, "City of God" stunned critics and audiences alike with its supple storytelling and vivid, vicious depiction of life on the street in the forgotten shanty towns of Rio [source: Corliss].