Time Out says
After police massacred 21 innocent citizens in the Brazilian slum of Vigrio Geral in 1993, resident Anderson Sa was consumed with rage. Angry at the drug dealers and corrupt cops who’d turned his neighborhood into a war zone, Sa decided to do something about it. But rather than launch another cycle of violence, he founded AfroReggae, a newsletter dedicated to empowering local at-risk youth. Soon, Sa’s zine evolved into a band that mixed positive messages with James Brown breakbeats, nu-metal guitars and lots of percussion. AfroReggae eventually expanded into a community outreach program and, finally, a bona fide movement.
This tale of using art to combat despair in “the Brazilian Bosnia,” as one kid calls the bullet-scarred ghetto, is undeniably inspirational. But just in case there’s any doubt, filmmakers Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist use every trick in the digi-vrit book to make sure you get the point. And if the abundance of overly poignant slo-mo sequences doesn’t sufficiently pluck your heartstrings, there’s also a real-life miracle that the movie milks for all it’s worth. Kudos to the documentarians for bringing Sa’s crusade to a wider audience; now they just need to learn the effectiveness of restraint. (Opens Fri; Village East.)—David Fear