Note from BW of Brazil: For those of you who watched the 2002 blockbuster Cidade de Deus, released in the US as City of God, I’m sure you all remember what made this film so memorable and what resonated with you. There are so many aspects of this film that could be analyzed in parts rather than the whole. Think of the cinematography. The history of this commununity in Rio known as Cidade de Deus. The fact that the film featured a mostly black cast of new actors. The scene of Zé Pequeno’s (Lil Zé) murder at the hands of the new up and coming little gangsters in training which beared some resemblance to Tommy Gibbs’ beat down (murder?) at the hands of a young mob in Harlem in the ’70s blaxploitation classic Black Caesar.
Zé’s thirst for murder at the drop of a dime also beared some resemblence to characters in the 1993 film Menace to Society as well the Tupac character, Bishop, in the 1992 film, Juice. The there was the music, both the new songs composed specifically for the film, as well as the classic songs from both Brazilian and American music catalogs. In the film, we heard the music of Cartola, Hyldon, Wilson Simonal, Tim Maia and also vintage ’70s black American music by the likes of James Brown, Carl Douglas and Tower of Power.
Watching the pivotal club/dance scene was a perfect mixture of cultural historiocity as it brought back memories of Saturday afternoons watching “The hippest trip in America” on televised dance program, Soul Train, while envisioning the Black/Soul scene of a ’70s Rio de Janeiro that, at that point, I could only imagine from the Samba-Soul sounds of the legendary band Banda Black Rio. Watching City of God in Bahia that year, my trip down memory lane peaked when I heard “Kung Fu Fighting” and “So Very Hard to Go”, two songs I hadn’t heard in years.
Cidade de Deus/City of God and its television/film off shoots, Cidade dos Homens/City of Men was the perfect one-two punch for someone like me who had a thirst for knowing the experience of being black in a country like Brazil. And this film/Tv series was FULL of blackness, even if neither directly addressed the race issue.
The City of God film was showered with all sorts of awards and nominations, an incredible feat considering the little to no experience of so many of the actors in the film. Having made such an impact, a decade later, a documentary was made that re-visited the film and actors involved in the film in a sort of “where are they now” style. Some of the stories were sad, such as the crack addiction of the actor that portrayed the character Neguinho, Blackie in the English version (who had the brilliant idea of translating the name in that way?). Then there was the lead character portrayed by actor Alexandre Rodrigues, known as Buscapé (Rocket), who had begun driving an Uber to pay the bills.
But where was everybody’s favorite villain, Zé Pequeno/Lil’ Zé? The actor who made Zé famous, Leandro Firmino, has appeared in a number of films since his debut in City of God, but he hasn’t been able to fully capitalize on the accolades he earned for his portrayal of the cold-blooded, dope dealing killer. Again, without even without addressing the race issue, both the film’s characters and the real post-City of God experiences of the actors reveal a lot about being black in Brazil.
But even not becoming a household name after Lil’ Zé/Zé Pequeno, Leandro does have some things to celebrate. Besides already being a father, he recently announced that he and his fiancé will soon make their relationship official! Congrats to Leandro and his wife to be!
Leandro Firmino, Zé Pequeno, from the movie City of God prepares for wedding party
On air in the novela (soap opera) Órfãos da terra as police officer Tomás, Leandro Firmino, who portrayed the unforgettable bad guy Zé Pequeno, from the movie Cidade de Deus (City of God) (2002)”, is preparing a big party to marry his wife, Letícia da Hora, the mother of his youngest son. The celebration takes place on September 7, and preparations are in full swing.
Firmino rose to fame with his portrayal of the murderous drug dealer Ze Pequeno in the 2002 blockbuster film Cidade de Deus – City of God
The actor and his wife have been living together for some years now and are married in civil life. Now they are preparing a religious ceremony with the right wedding dress and party. Before going to the altar, they did a sensual photo layout to celebrate the big day.
“The time is coming for us to say yes at the altar. We have done this before men, now it will be before God. It took a little while, but the time has come. For you, I would do that a thousand times my love,” wrote Leandro, 40, on a social network.
Currently living in São Gonçalo, of the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region, with his wife and two children, 7 and 2 years old, the actor has been dedicating himself to film, series and directing projects. He also recently opened a virtual jewelry store.
The information is from the Mundo Negro website