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CarandiruCarandiru (2003)—Brazilian

Built in 1928 to hold 4,000 prisoners, the Carandiru House of Detention in Sao Paulo housed 7,500 violent criminals and was the largest prison in Latin America. That was before it was closed and then demolished in late 2002, ten years after government troops stormed the prison in October 1992 and killed 111 inmates after a riot had broken out. Not a single police died, and as the film portrays it the prisoners had thrown their weapons out the barred windows and waved white flags. Based on these real life events, the film traces the violent prison subculture, the stories of several inmates (through extensive use of flashbacks), and especially the role played by the humanitarian prison doctor, Drauzio Varella, who volunteered his services for fourteen years after visiting the prison for AIDS research. He later wrote a memoir about his experiences, Carandiru Station, which forms the basis of the film. The film culminates in the riot, features the actual footage when it was demolished by dynamite in December 2002, and incorporates interviews with prisoners who survived the massacre. This film is not for weak stomachs; it is an unsettling commentary on the Darwinian subculture and institutionalized inhumanity inside our worst prisons. In Portuguese with subtitles.

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