City of God getting cinema re-release to mark movie’s 21st anniversary

City of God is returning to cinemas credit:Bang Showbiz
City of God is returning to cinemas credit:Bang Showbiz

Fernando Meirelles’ epic crime drama ‘City of God’ is returning to cinemas to mark the movie’s 21st anniversary.

Over two decades on from its original release, this visually stunning and gripping reflection of life on the mean streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is back on the big screen – courtesy of Paris-based distributor The Festival Agency partnering with sales company Wild Bunch - for a new generation to experience.

The film is an adaptation of Paulo Lins’ 1997 novel of the same name – which is based on real events – that weaves together the compelling stories of a group of kids growing up in the poverty-stricken favelas of Rio from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Narrator Rocket – played by Alexandre Rodrigues - tries to avoid being drawn into the spiral of violence and crime to become a photographer and win over the beautiful Angélica (Alicia Braga), whilst gun-toting L’il Zé (Leandro Firmino) becomes the brutal crime boss of the city, wiping out rival gangs without remorse. When crack shot Knockout Ned (singer-and-actor Seu Jorge) is dragged into the fray, the vicious turf war between the last two remaining gangs reaches boiling point.

The cast was comprised mostly of non-actors discovered in Rio’s favelas for authenticity and ‘City of God’ is widely considered by critics and audiences to be one of the greatest films of all time, ranking number 25 on IMDB’s Top 250 List, whilst it has a rating of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Upon its release, Meirelles’ film won numerous awards and accolades and received four Academy Award nominations - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Director.

Following ‘City of God’, Meirelles, 68, went on to direct ‘The Constant Gardener’ – which earned Rachel Weisz the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance – ‘Blindness’, the film adaptation of Nobel prize-winner José Saramago’s 1995 novel of the same name, and 2019’s ‘The Two Popes’ starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce.

Revealing why he was inspired to turn Lins’ book into a film, Meirelles – who worked with Katia Lund on the project - said: “Paulo Lins was raised in City of God. He was doing research for an anthropological work about dealers in the favelas and his boss asked him to write a novel about it. He took eight years writing it. When the book was published, it was a bestseller in Brazil because it was very shocking for us. Nobody knew exactly what happened inside the favelas and this was a book that was telling the story from the inside.”

Meirelles used the film’s success as a platform to focus both Brazil and the rest of the world’s attention on the problems of Rio’s favelas in the hope to stir political activism for their potential emancipation. Brazil’s current President, Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva, changed his policies of public security on account of the film, yet the violence and power of drug dealers controlling the favelas unfortunately remains today.

To celebrate the UK and international re-release of ‘City of God’ in cinemas a limited-edition City of God Capsule skate collection has been created, a unique collaboration between renowned skate brand Clown Skateboards and London-based creative agency AllCity in partnership with In Action for Charitable Community Initiatives in Brazil.

The collection is available from and at select skate stores from February 2024.

‘City of God’ cinema dates:

Hong Kong Macau - January 2024

Middle East - 22 February 2024

UK – 23 February 2024

Australia - 23 February 2024

Ireland – 15 March 2024