Captains of the Sands | Chicago Reader

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97 minutes

Like Hector Babenco’s Pixote (1981) and Fernando Meirelles’s City of God (2002), this Brazilian drama considers the abbreviated childhood of feral street kids. The source novel by modernist writer Jorge Amado was published in 1937; directors Cecilia Amado and Guy Goncalves have moved the action up to the 1950s but retain Amado’s favorite locale, the coastal city of Salvador, Bahia. Bala, leader of a gang of petty thieves who inhabit a ruined building on the ocean shore, wrestles with romantic feelings after reluctantly loosening the rules of membership to admit a pubescent girl. Early in the movie, a lovely scene of the gang riding a merry-go-round in town exposes the element that makes these stories so reliably potent: the ease with which young criminals can revert to a childlike vulnerability. In Portuguese with subtitles.

See our full review: What to see at the Chicago Latino Film Festival

What to see at the Chicago Latino Film Festival

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