'City of God –- 10 Years Later' Co-Director on Where the Stars of the Brazilian Hit Are Today (Q&A)

Viviane Laprovita

Co-director Luciano Vidigal tells THR his documentary explores the artistic impact of the film and also revisits the actors, some of whom are struggling to make ends meet: "I was sad, but I thought that people needed to see that."

RIO DE JANEIRO – Ten years after the release of Fernando Meirelles Oscar-nominated City of God, a new documentary explores the impact the film had on the lives of the actors as well as in the community.

City of God – 10 Years Later, directed by Cavi Borges and Luciano Vidigal shows what happened to the actors after their rises to stardom, reveals how much they got paid and explores their current jobs, among other topics. While some of the stars were able to continue their acting careers, others ended up on an obscure paths or got involved with crime and drugs.

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The film’s festival showing was canceled due to protests outside the fest’s main theater, and will screen Saturday in an off-schedule premiere.

The doc includes interviews with actress Alice Braga, singer Seu Jorge, Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Roberta Rodrigues and Thiago Martins among others.

According to Vidigal, the biggest challenge was discovering some of the talented actors were struggling to make a living. “I didn’t feel well having to shoot that. I was sad, but I thought that people needed to see that,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Borges also speaks with THR about the difficulties of making the film as well as the experience of following up with a story that changed Brazilian cinema.

How did you feel about reviewing the legacy of City of God while making the documentary 10 years later?

The making of City of God by Fernando and Katia took a long time. Almost one year rehearsing and a long time filming and editing, as well. It also involved a lot of people. The actors alone totaled almost 200. For all that, many stories, memories and rumors arose when we decided to do our documentary 10 years later. Reviewing the film, hearing the stories and seeing all the actors and everything that the film has accomplished, we really can say it was a milestone for Brazilian cinema. A special film that had a special cast, a special team, a special song -- in other words, a very special piece of work.

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What were the major difficulties during the production of this documentary?

Our major difficulty was finding those actors today. Of the 200 actors who worked on the film, we only managed to find 50 of them. Each of them followed a different path, and many of them aren’t even actors anymore. Another difficulty was the financial viability of our doc. We didn’t have that much time to make the movie and we didn’t have enough money. It was an independent production where we basically counted on friends and partners. We got the sponsorship only near the end of the process. We had to use crowd funding and throw parties to raise money to finish the production of this film.

What were the most valuable experiences you had while making the film?

Borges: For me, each interview was a new life experience. I think that after these two years filming and making the film, we grew up a lot as human beings and realized how much art can be powerful and transformative. Our discussions, debates and analysis made ​​us rethink the slums, our city and our country. Also, the family’s basis and structure is really important in the lives of all of us.

Do you think the actors should have received any kind of assistance or guidance from the production of City of God after the end of the movie? Have they done something for them?

They actually received some assistance, but can you imagine having to take care of 200 actors at the same time? When the movie was done, Fernando and Katia created, along with the actors, an audiovisual school called “Nós do Cinema” that today became “Cinema Nosso.” This organization allowed several actors to keep studying films, and they also could work in other functions besides acting. Some of them also worked in the TV series City of Men that was created after the success of the movie and participated in other productions by O2 Filmes (production company owned by Meirelles).

What sort of impact do you expect the documentary to have in society?

To make people and the government reflect on the difficulty of living art in Brazil. How art can transform an individual. But for this to happen, we need to create and develop a larger structure. Build schools, cultural and professional groups that drive young people to the right path. Show that the family and education are the basis of everything. And if we want a fair and democratic country we need to invest more in education and culture.