Sometime last fall while visiting New York City, me and my cousin decided to go see a movie.
By good fortune we happened across Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) which turned out to be a visually stunning film with an equally impressive soundtrack that uses dark humour and beautiful cinematography to explore the various facets of kidnapping in Sao Paulo and its effects on people and businesses there.
The film (which looked much more like a ‘movie’ than a ‘documentary’) featured a series of interviews with a kidnap victim; an paranoid businessman who spends thousands of dollars on personal security (including bulletproofing his Porsche); a couple of Renato-style cops; a stoned frog farmer; a dodgy politician; a professional criminal who cuts peoples ears off for a living and a doctor who constructs new ones from spare cartilage and sews them back on.
Despite the seemingly grim subject matter, Manda Bala was very entertaining and reminded me a lot of Jamaica in many ways; particularly in its depiction of a sort of desensitized humour which seems characteristic of societies plagued by crime and violence.
Inspired, I shot a Manda Bala-themed set of photographs with model Danielle Lowe tied to a wheelchair. This got the attention of the film’s publicist who arranged an interview with producer/director Jason Kohn back in New York.
While Jason found the mock-kidnap photographs on the Afflicted Yard to be more than a bit strange (considering the fact that there was nothing ‘sexy’ about the kidnapping situation portrayed in Manda Bala), he still showed up for the interview and answered a barrage of questions which we now present for our readers in three parts.
By the way, Manda Bala won top honours at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival claiming the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary as well as winning for Excellence in Cinematography for a Documentary.
PART II (Below)
PART III (Below)
Get the Manda Bala DVD HERE (trust us its worth it)
Words: Peter Dean Rickards
Camera and Editing: Peter-John Rickards