Director Jose Padilha combines scenes of the hijacking with an impressively thorough investigation of the roots of the incident. The hijacker, Sandro de Nascimiento, had seen his mother murdered when he was a boy. He became one of the many Brazilian children living on the crowded streets. Later he became a member of a street gang and spent time in prison.
Padilha probes beneath the surface of a turbulent society, personalizing the crime statistics. The documentary includes interviews with people who had encountered de Nascimiento throughout his life, from a woman who also lived on the streets to older women who tried the steer his life away from crime. Comments by police and prison officials reflect the futility of reigning in crime in a country where death is casual. Some of the hostages give their personal insights into the ordeal of facing the gun and being threatened by the unstable hijacker, who wrote his death threats on a bus window with the lipstick of a female hostage.
The media coverage became a crucial factor in the resolution of the hijacking. Both hijacker and police acted for the cameras. The film also examines the intervention of the Brazilian government in the eventual outcome. In meticulously detailing the different events that led to a violent incident in a society desensitized to violence, "Bus 174" becomes a gripping and penetrating examination of contemporary Brazil. Directed by Jose Padilha. Produced by Jose Padilha and Marcos Prado. A ThinkFilm release. Documentary. Portugese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 132 min