101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

The favelas (slums) of Rio are lightyears away from the glittering city they overlook. Areas like Cidade de Deus (City of God) have been abandoned to criminal gangs and corrupt officials, and life is lawless and brutal—but also filled with music and exuberant joy. Bráulio Mantovani adapted the novel by Paulo Lins, who had grown up in City of God. The film was shot using non-actors who had been trained in workshops for months before filming. "Each scene was rehearsed numerous times during the workshop period," co-director Fernando Meirelles told the Irish Times. “Each time phrases were added or cut out, reactions or jokes were incorporated, and intentions sharpened. These contributions were passed on to the screenwriter, Bráulio Mantovani, and the script began to grow and grow.” The resulting film brought a naturalistic, colorful, heightened sense of the favelas’ bonds and violence to a shocked international audience.