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The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
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Brazilian director José Padilha began his career with a tension-filled documentary, Bus 174, which examined a notorious crime in Rio de Janeiro, and exposed the economic disparity and police abuse of the underclass that led to the incident, along with the culpability of the media. His next film, Elite Squad (which won the Golden Bear at Berlin), was a hard-hitting fact-based drama about corruption and brutality amidst the region's war on drugs. The filmmaker returns to documentary filmmaking with Garapa, named for the nutritionally empty sugar water drink which is an unfortunate staple in the diet of Brazil's poorest families. Padilha's film, shot in stark black-and-white, with no musical score, focuses on three impoverished families who subsist on the outskirts of Brazil's society. Their children suffer from malnutrition, their bodies often covered with sores and swarmed with flies, as mothers--frequently without the help of their husbands--struggle with the painful choices involved in living with extreme poverty. "If I do supper," says one woman, "we can't have lunch tomorrow." Padilha and his crew offered assistance to the families during shooting, in an effort to alleviate their suffering. The film eschews interviews with "experts," focusing on the families themselves and their painful daily struggle, but the film does end with titles explaining how much it would cost to alleviate malnutrition around the world, a figure that is dwarfed by the amount that developed nations spend on weapons. Garapa had its North American Premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi