Bus 174

Director: José Padilha

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


A stunning film that transfixes, fascinates, and confounds, Bus 174 tells in virtually real time the story of a Sao Paolo bus hijacking, the elements forecasting its eruption, and the official incompetence that almost inexorably leads those involved into nightmarish tragedy. The kind of documentary that cannot be planned, Bus 174 doesn't roll out across the screen as much as it rolls, churns, and ultimately explodes.

Director Jose Padilha seamlessly interweaves news footage; interviews with survivors, law enforcement officials, and journalists; testimony from relatives and friends of the hijacker, and a clinical account of the hijacker's personal history to create a chronicle rooted equally in intimate details and national, even global, issues of poverty, criminality, and the blinkered state of more privileged populations. The film also underlines the reality of siege situations and the irrationality of the state and poses troublesome questions about the role of the media, which, in this case, captured and transmitted the entire disaster in agonizing living color to households throughout Brazil. "Official" policy is only as wise as its agents, and Bus 174 proves all too clearly how a relatively minor event can become a disaster of tragic proportions.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

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