CNN, its better if you ‘pede pra sair’

CNN is a little late covering the whole Tropa de Elite story and ‘controversy’. Its better that they ‘pede pra sair’ (ask to leave/get out…a famous line from the movie for when a Special Forces enrollee can’t do things right).

Once again, in the American media, Brazil = violence (just like Colombia = cocaine).


Update: October 23rd, 2008

CNN’s newest article on Brazilian cinema is not the one I just posted a few days ago (above) but rather what seems to be an answer to my calling them out for speaking of Brazil only when violence is involved. Ok, so maybe I’m getting big-headed but in a way, its a response as they question the use of violent films in Brazil.

Police arrest man with 23 grenades

“Brazilan police say they have arrested a man trying to deliver more than 20 hand grenades and other weapons to a notorious criminal organization.

Police officer Alexandre Ferreira says the man had purchased 23 hand grenades, a grenade launcher, a 9mm pistol and ammunition in neighboring Paraguay and was carrying them by bus to Rio de Janeiro.”

The rest of the article is here

Lets just be happy the bus driver wasn’t Capitão Nascimento

(Sorry, subs are in Spanish)

Tropa de Elite & Film Piracy in Brazil

Tropa de Elite or The Elite Squad in English, is a Brazilian film released on October 5, 2007. The movie is a semi-fictional account of the BOPE (Portuguese: Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais), the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. It is the second feature film and first fiction film of director José Padilha, who had previously directed the acclaimed documentary Bus 174. The script was based on the book Elite da Tropa by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former BOPE captains, André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel.


The movie, set in 1997, depicts the story of Captain Nascimento (played by famous Brazilian actor Wagner Moura), a BOPE captain, who with the imminent birth of his first child, is determined to leave the battalion and find a safer position for the sake of his family, but first he must find a suitable replacement for himself. At the same time, the movie focuses on two childhood friends, Matias and Neto, who become cadets in the military police, but become dismayed at the corruption surrounding them. Eventually, both Nascimento and the cadets’ paths intersect, when the captain hopes that one of the two may become the substitute he is eager to find, as both decide to join the BOPE.

The book was controversial at the time of release, and reportedly resulted in Batista being reprimanded and censored by the Military Police. The book was controversial in its description of the BOPE as a “killing machine”, as well as detailing an alleged aborted assassination attempt on then-governor Leonel Brizola.

Leaked on the Streets

In August 2007, prior to the movie’s release to theaters, a preliminary cut of the film was leaked and made available for download on the Internet. The cut, which included English title cards but no subtitles, was leaked from the company responsible for subtitling the film, resulting in one person being fired and a criminal investigation. It was estimated that about 11.5 million people had seen the leaked version of the movie in 2007. This constituted a first in Brazilian cinema, as it was the first film to be pirated before its release in the cinema, something that isn’t unheard of in the Western world.

In Boston, I heard the film was being sold by paperboys who hid the film in the newspaper and priced each copy at $10. If you do find it online, it should offer English subtitles or you can go to

In terms of Brazilian film piracy in general, Brazil is huge when it comes to how much international (complete with Portuguese subtitles) and national media content is available online to Portuguese speakers.


Tropa de Elite became one of the most popular Brazilian movies in history. According to Data Folha which does statistics, 77% of São Paulo residents knew about the movie. The word of mouth was also extremely good with 80% of the people rating the movie as excellent or good according to the same company. The movie was released in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo on October 5,2007, with a nationwide release on October 12, 2007. Up to now 2.5 million people have seen it at the theaters. In Rio and São Paulo, with no promotion other than billboards, 180,000 people saw the movie during its opening weekend.

The movie was also the cover for three of Brazil’s most important weekly magazines, VejaCarta Capital and Época. On the beginning of 2008, it was confirmed that Rede Globo will produce a TV series based on the movie, but whether it will come to fruition is unlikely.

Camelôs – Sidewalk Shopping

A camelô is a common sight on the sidewalks, beaches and even buses of Brazil. They are street vendors (both fixed and mobile) providing an array of goods, mostly cheaply-made and/or illegal. Want a pair of sunglasses? A sarong for the beach? Artisan crafts? Japanese peanuts? Books & magazines? Dvds of new movies and concerts? You name it, you’ll find it…just don’t ask questions and act under the assumption that most of it isn’t top quality or long-lasting.

The camelôs can be a nuisance for the simple fact that they make bad use of public space and for the reason that they don’t pay any taxes unlike the stores which sell the same items legally. They are also considered a sign of the times, in that unemployment has generally been high in Brazil, although they aren’t seen as unemployed but rather sub-employed. The word camelô is Galician (which in turn is probably from the French “camelot” meaning ‘seller of cheap things’).

The question of legality is usually left unspoken both by the buyer and the seller. As far as the policing of such activities, camelôs are mostly left alone unless the police are doing a raid due to recent negative news coverage or public outrage. The reality is, almost everyone has bought one thing or another from a camelô at some point.

In the Media

For the first time in Brazilian history in 2007, a large-production Brazilian film (Tropa de Elite) was pirated and sold on the streets months before it was to premere in the theaters. So many people had seen it and liked it that ticket sales didn’t seem to suffer.

On the other hand, there are certain camelôs that work in conjunction with music labels and groups. Such an example can be seen with the Electro-Forró band Calcinha Preta, which sent representatives into the cities where their next concerts were to be held, in order to either sell cheaply or freely give away their next album. Their gamble payed off and helped shoot them to stardom.