There are films that are stylish and there are films that have important social messages. Most of the time those are two very different films. Then something like City of God (Cidade de Deus) comes along and does it in a way that looks effortless. Shot in an exciting, hyperkinetic style, City of God traces the epic story of group of boys who grow up in the City of God outside of Rio de Janeiro. It’s a sometimes violent story that is based on what actually happened in the planned community of Cidade de Deus. The cast was drawn together from workshops which give something back to the community that is presented on the screen. The use of unknown or non-actors can work incredibly well when the people involved have a connection with the material. The film is powerful and has bold, swaggering attitude that jumps out at you from the very first scene. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, it’s a film that goes against the trend of big-budget safe, market-tested films. The process that they followed in making the film is fascinating as well in that they made a short film with some of the cast members to make sure that it would work. I’m convinced that you can tell by simply watching a film if the cast and crew really cared and with City of God they’re doing great work. The DVD also features a documentary from 1999 called News From a Personal War that was directed by Lund and João Moreira Salles.