55 user 31 critic

Bus 174 (2002)

Ônibus 174 (original title)
On June 12, 2000, a young man with a gun took the passengers aboard Bus 174 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hostage. This documentary examines the event itself, the resulting media frenzy, the police response, and the perpetrator's background.


José Padilha, Felipe Lacerda (co-director)
21 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Anonymous Anonymous ... Self - Rio SWAT Team Officer
Maria Aparecida Maria Aparecida ... Self - Damiana's Daughter
Captain Batista Captain Batista ... Self - Rio SWAT Team Negotiator
Luanna Belmon Luanna Belmon ... Self - Undergraduate Student
Claudete Beltrana Claudete Beltrana ... Self - Former Street Kid
Luciana Carvalho Luciana Carvalho ... Self - Secretary
Coelho Coelho ... Self - Former Street Kid
Damiana Damiana ... Self
Yvonne Bezerra de Mello Yvonne Bezerra de Mello ... Self - Social Worker
Julieta do Nacimento Julieta do Nacimento ... Self - Sandro's Maternal Aunt
Sandro do Nascimento Sandro do Nascimento ... Self (archive footage)
Dona Elza Dona Elza ... Self
Geísa Firmo Gonçalves Geísa Firmo Gonçalves ... Self (archive footage)
José Henrique José Henrique ... Self - TV Cameraman
Cláudia Macumbinha Cláudia Macumbinha ... Self - Former Street Kid


Documentary depicts what happened in Rio de Janeiro on June 12th 2000, when bus 174 was taken by an armed young man, threatening to shoot all the passengers. Transmitted live on all Brazilian TV networks, this shocking and tragic-ending event became one of violence's most shocking portraits, and one of the scariest examples of police incompetence and abuse in recent years. Written by fabreu@rio.com.br

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, violent images and some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

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User Reviews

A fascinating documentary of challenges and failure exposure that is not an easy watch
20 June 2006 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In June 2000 a young man tried to rob a bus in Rio de Janeiro and ended up in a hostage situation as the police SWAT team surrounded the bus. However the police at first fail to control the situation, allowing crowds of the public and the media to gather right outside the bus – putting the story at the top of every channel's output. The police gradually bring the situation outside under control but inside the pressure cooker of the bus things are only getting worse as the young man demands grenades, a rifle and a driver for the bus before starting to set deadlines for killing the passengers one by one.

I had never heard this story before watching this film so I had no idea where it was going or how it would end; in a way I suppose this makes it more engaging for me as a viewer because the main story was as good as the back story (the latter being the main thrust of the film). The opening credits sees the camera moving from the rich side of Rio down into the crowded and heaving slums and this start pretty much lays out the groundwork for a film that aims to highlight the total failure of any system in Brazil to deal with the rich/poor divide – a divide that is extreme beyond understanding. The main action on the bus is interesting but what the film does well is to build on this by looking at the background of Sandro – a background that is not uncommon among street kids. It deals with a complex range of issues and it poses many questions of the authorities.

It is not cheerful viewing because it can find no answers and it can find nothing here to give hope for the future. The social work system fails but the real failure highlighted here is the legal system and the police. The response to the bus hijacking is a shambles which ends badly due to the police and allegedly ends with them murdering Sandro in the back of the police van – a crime which the jury found them innocent of. The point that nobody seems to care for the disenfranchised poor is further hammered home with startling footage of the prisons and a history of the Candelária massacre. The final credits shows that nothing really has happened and certainly a scan of the newspapers online suggest that not much has changed in the last six years. The contributions are mostly very good and everyone is pretty honest however the uses the archive footage to very good effect to present the hostage situation while also expanding the discussion to look beyond it.

Overall then this is not a film to come to if you are looking for a fun night in. However it is a fascinating documentary that starts with one compelling event and uses it to look at the wider problems inherent in Rio's problems. Those that found City of God riveting should watch this as it does the job just as well but does it by raising the debate above street level and exposes the system failures that condemn poor to death or even brings it to them as the norm. Fascinating stuff but about as downbeat and hopeless as you could imagine.

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Portuguese | Spanish

Release Date:

30 August 2003 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Bus 174 See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,625, 12 October 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Zazen Produções See more »
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Technical Specs


| | (extended DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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