Pacificado (“pacified” in Portugese) is named for the pacification police who were charged with cleaning up the crime-ridden favela slums before the 1913 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite the heavy police presence the drug-dealing and viiolence continued much as before.
The film opens with vision of the Games’ closing fireworks, taken from a favela shanty high above the city.
Down below, a chastened Jaca (Bukassa Kabengele) returns to the favela he used to control, after 14 years in jail.
Times have changed. The young man who has taken over as boss of the favela is violent, undisciplined and rules by fear.
Some of the locals want Jaca to take over again but he makes it clear he is not interested.
All he wants is a quiet life. Much to their surprise, he wants to open a pizza bar. (He’s learnt to cook Italian in jail).
There’s a dramatic shot of him with a huge refrigerator on his back, staggering up the favela steps which seem to stretch forever up the hill.
It’s not surprising that a peaceful life is not easy to achieve in the noisy, violent, crime-ridden favela.
His brother, a suicidal drug addict, has run foul of the favela boss.
Jaca has to get to know his beautiful 13-year-old daughter, Tati (Cassia Nascimento), whose best friend is in big trouble for stealing cosmetics.
Tati’s mother, another addict, is desperate for drugs.
Mexican director Paxton Winters creates a vivid picture of the teeming vibrance and precarious nature of life in a favela. Winters knows it well – he has lived in a favela himself.
Pacificado won the prize for best film, the Golden Shell, at the 2019 San Sebastian Film Festival and cinematographer Laura Merians also won the top award.
Pacificado, part of the Lotterywest Film Festival, is showing at the Somerville Auditorium at 8pm from Monday, February 17, to Sunday, February 23.
Watch the trailer…