We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.



“A man is a man when he uses a gun to change his fate.” That dictum could come from such recent Brazilian films as City Of God or Bus 174, but its source is actually 1964’s Black God, White Devil. This epic of Brazilian history is one of the few films that writer-director Glauber Rocha—a leader of the Cinema Novo movement—made in his native land before going into exile. Shot in Brazil’s scrubby Sertao, the movie follows Manoel and Rosa, innocents swept up in a bloody war between peasants and landowners. The mobile camera, deep-focus shots, and crisp black-and-white cinematography ground the film, while the poetic dialogue, dramatic framing, and use of music (ranging from choral bombast to a sort of Brazilian blues) propel it into the realm of myth. The result is unabashedly operatic, but—as City Of God demonstrates—by no means antiquated. The film screens at 7 p.m. at the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute, 4719 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $3. (202) 362-8334. (Mark Jenkins)