An enlightening, poignant portrait of three rappers in Rio de Janeiro’s ghettoes, “Living Rap in Rio” hits the viewer with major doses of realism that overturn a lot of expectations. Not an overview of the city’s rap scene, as the title might suggest, film follows two men and a girl for nine months, concentrating on their lives more than their music. Final twist, which gives a strong sense of closure, is a shocker young documaker Guilherme Coelho could not have anticipated. Broadcasters looking for ethnic flavor should consider this alternative view of the “City of God.” Coelho took director honors and the film won audience award at Rio fest.
Macarrao, who makes his living taking bets on the street, writes lyrics about kids dying of drugs and everyday life in the slums. Toghum is a practicing Buddhist who struggles against his feelings of anger and hatred. Combatente, who sings with an all-girl rap group, is a churchgoer with a regular job. Incredibly, by the end of the film all three have made major shifts. Not at all the kind of upbeat ending suggested by these strong personalities, its somberness hits that much harder.