Send a Bullet (Manda Bala)
City Lights Home Entertainment
It makes sense that Jason Kohn, director of the engrossing documentary Manda Bala, once served as a research assistant for legendary filmmaker Errol Morris. Kohn remains unseen throughout Manda Bala, but his presence is felt: The insightful questions the director lobs at his fascinating subjects are often audible. Hearing them, one is reminded of Morris shouting questions at his interviewees while employing his famous "Interrotron." Like Morris' best works (The Fog of War and the excellent TV series First Person/i>) Manda Bala is insightful, interesting and surprising. The film's an examination of the sorry state of Brazil---a country where the rich are very rich, the poor are systemically poor and both political corruption and violent kidnappings are common. We hear from a masked kidnapper, a kidnapping victim who had her ear lobes sliced off, a policeman, a plastic surgeon, a frog farmer, corrupt Brazilian politician Jader Barbalho and more. Kohn makes all these seemingly disparate puzzle pieces lock together beautifully---telling the story of a country in which many cars are bullet-proofed, ransom-collecting kidnappers see themselves as justified champions for a left-behind social class and no one feels protected or safe.