Elite Squad 2: perfect timing

Here is the trailer for Elite Squad 2 in English, opening Nov. 11, 2011 in New York and Nov. 18 in Los Angeles. On Oct. 31 2011, state legislator Marcelo Freixo, on whom one of the movie’s characters is based, announced he and his family would spend a month in Europe because of death threats they’ve been receiving from militia members. A judge who’d been tough on the milicianos was gunned down in front of her home this past August; a top police commander is now behind bars, accused of ordering her assassination. For a more up-to-date post, click here.

[UPDATE JAN 19, 2011] According to O Globo, Elite Squad 2 is now the top-ranking Brazilian movie, with a bigger box-office than Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands in 1976; to date more than 11 million Brazilian tickets have been sold. The film premieres in the U.S. this Sunday at the Sundance Festival, hors concours, and will go on sale in DVD format in Brazil on Feb. 10]

Elite Squad 2 has so far racked up local box-office sales of more than ten million, according to O Globo, and is at the moment in Brazil second only to Titanic’s run in the last 20 years, with a bigger audience than Avatar and Ice Age. The film is slated for showing at the 2011 Sundance Festival.

The movie works on a number of levels, with strong appeal even to Brazilians far removed from the violence and politics of Rio de Janeiro, which it so successfully portrays. It also seems to have appeared at just the right moment, as voters here begin to truly pay attention to the roots and practices of the politicians they elect. The movie launched a week after the presidential and legislative election.

O Globo reported today that candidates linked to illegal paramilitary groups in Rio’s west zone lost seats in the state legislature, electing only three candidates. The story doesn’t provide the previous number of militia-linked legislators. Brazil doesn’t have district voting, but this is often de facto, because of local economic and social ties between candidates and electorates.

Apparently, the death of some militia leaders and arrests of others had an impact on the electoral outcome. Political scientist Geraldo Tadeu is quoted as saying that these groups did lose political power in the region, though the number of territories they control has increased. “Militias don’t need to negotiate with anyone else, ” he added. “Unlike drug traffickers, they completely dominate the region. And the candidate elected with the support of these communities maintains his militia ties for four years, which is terrible, because, in addition to having a representative in the legislature, they end up influencing the public machine as well.”

Marcelo Freixo, president of the state legislative commission which investigated Rio’s militias in 2008, was re-elected to the legislature, partly due to 17,000 votes he garnered in the west zone, 10% of his total. A character in Elite Squad 2 was based on Freixo. “I had votes in several [militia-]dominated communities,” he told O Globo. “Which is evidence of a resistance movement on the part of residents who are against the presence of militias in their regions. This is good news. But, despite all efforts, with several leaders’ arrests, the militias are still strong, because their economic power hasn’t been dismantled.”

Rio’s state public safety policy, in place since 2008, has so far focused on bringing peace to areas controlled by drug traffickers, not militias. In some cases, militias have reportedly moved into areas where the narcotraffic has been pushed out by a new police presence.

Perhaps we need an Elite Squad 3? Fans of Wagner Moura, who stars in both Elite Squad movies, certainly wouldn’t mind.

See a previous post about Elite Squad 2 here.

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About Rio real

American journalist, writer, editor who's lived in Rio de Janeiro for 20 years.
This entry was posted in Transformation of Rio de Janeiro / Transformação do Rio de Janeiro and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Elite Squad 2: perfect timing

  1. tee cardaci says:

    Great post! I just saw this today: http://tiny.cc/sdhbx

    the headline: “Bad cop ‘milicias’ rise as new lords of Rio slums”

  2. Pingback: Elite Squad 2 at Sundance: sole online critic so far loved it « RioReal

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