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USA: Sony Pictures Classics
UK: Columbia Tristar Films (UK)
Cast: Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Milton Gonçalves, Ivan de Almeida, Ailton Graça, Maria Luisa Mendonça, Aida Leiner, Rodrigo Santoro, Gero Camilo, Lazaro Ramos, Caio Blat, Wagner Moura, Julia Ianina, Sabrina Greve, Floriano Peixoto, Ricardo Blat, Vanessa Gerbelli, Leona Cavalli, Milhem Cortaz, Dionisio Neto, Antonio Grassi, Enrique Diaz, Robson Nunes, Andre Ceccato, Bukassa, Sabotage, Rita Cadillac
Director: Hector Babenco
Countries: Brazil / Argentina
Language: Portuguese (English Subtitles)
USA & UK: 146 mins
USA Rated: R for strong bloody violence/carnage, language, sexuality and drug use
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language, violence and drug use
USA Release Date: 14 May 2004
UK Release Date: 16 April 2004
CARANDIRU is an adaptation of the best-selling book "Carandiru Station," by Drauzio Varella. Through the eyes of a doctor who worked in SAo Paulo's infamous Casa de DetençAo for twelve years, the film portrays haunting stories of crime, revenge, love and friendship, culminating in the fateful massacre of 1992.
In a cell inside SAo Paulo's House of Detention, better known as Carandiru, two inmates (Lula and Dagger) have a score to settle. The atmosphere is tense. Another inmate, Black Nigger, a self-appointed "judge" for settling disputes among prisoners, solves the case in time to welcome the new Doctor, who is eager to begin an AIDS-prevention program in the penitentiary.
The Doctor is confronted with the many serious problems that face Latin America's largest jail: overcrowded cells, decaying facilities, diseases such as TB, leptospirosis, cachexia, and the beginnings of an AIDS epidemic. The inmates have access to neither medical care nor legal assistance. Carandiru, housing upwards of seven thousand prisoners, is a daunting challenge for the newcomer. But after working there for a few months he discovers something that will transform him: the inmates, even in this appalling situation, are not demonic figures. In his daily contact with prisoners in his makeshift office, the Doctor witness's solidarity, organization, and above all, a great will to live.
Although he is a famous oncologist, accustomed to working with the most advanced technology, the Doctor is forced to practice rudimentary medicine, with only a stethoscope, his instincts, and a good ear. His work begins to bear fruit and the Doctor gradually earns the respect of the inmates. With respect come secrets. His consultations begin to deal with issues beyond disease as the inmates begin to tell him their life stories. His meetings with patients in the ward become "windows" into the world of crime.
Through a series of flashbacks, the inmates' personal tales unfold: The friendship of Zico and Deusdete, inseparable since childhood and adolescence, comes to a tragic end in jail; Highness the charismatic drug-dealer who swaggers around and enjoys the favors of his two competing women, Dalva and Rosirene. Old Chico, a life-time criminal who loves to make elaborate balloons to float over the prison walls, is about to be released and will see his 18 children again; the "judge," Black Nigger, the leader of all the inmates, who has so many problems to deal with that he is diagnosed with executive stress; the brutal hit man Dagger, convicted 39 times, who undergoes an unexpected and violent conversion to religion; the surfer Ezequiel who is forced to play out his own demise in the jail; friends and bank robbers Antonio Carlos and Claudiomiro, who having a falling out over the cunning and perverse Dina; the existentialist "philosopher" No Way who has a fairy tale love affair with the divine Lady Di; and the Chief Warden, Sr. Pires, who has the daunting task of managing the prison.
The film's narrative is like a jigsaw puzzle. One story fits into another to paint a realistic portrait of the social tragedy that encapsulates Brazil. Along with the Doctor, the audience follows the daily routine of the inmates leading up to the fateful date of October 2nd, 1992 - the day that shook the Casa de DetençAo, and all Brazil: the Carandiru Massacre.