City of Men
Sundance Channel • Tuesday, Nov. 15 (9 p.m.)
Sundance Channel heads back to Rio De Janeiro for the third season of Brazilian coming-of-age series City of Men.
The series, based on the film City of God, tells the story of two young boys, Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cuha), growing up in Rio’s violent Cidade de Deus slum.
Like the ultra-violent 2002 feature film, City of Men uses a documentary look and feel, as well as quick cuts and a frenetic pace to convey the uncertainty and edginess of life in the slums. But unlike the movie, the series tones the violence way down. The movie dealt primarily with the criminal aspect of the slums, with characters growing up amid drug dealing and deadly turf wars. City of Men uses that as a background, but most of the action involves somewhat normal teenage pursuits. The premiere episode finds Acerola and Laranjinha and their friends making their plans for a Saturday-night dance. Laranjinha hooks up with the slum’s sexiest girl, but he faces major trouble when the girl’s ex-boyfriend comes looking for him.
The series is a stark and shocking look at a side of life that is usually lost amidst the glitter and bright lights of one of South America’s hottest tourist destinations.
City of Men was created by director Fernando Meirelles and author Paolo Lins, the team behind City of God. It got its start on Brazilian TV, becoming one of that country’s most-watched shows. The series lasted for four seasons, with the boys aging from season to season, starting as 13-year-olds and ending at 17. Sundance premiered season one of the show in April.