In Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), Kohn’s subjects include a plastic surgeon whose practice is dominated by the victims of kidnappers who lost their ears to their captors; a political figure who uses his frog ranch as a cover for illegal business operations which have made him a multi-millionaire; and an auto customizer whose specialty is bullet-proofing luxury cars.
Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), a flashy documentary about corruption, injustice and frog farming in Brazil, is a weird hybrid of political exposé and sensationalistic fluff.
Produced and directed by Jason Kohn, “Manda Bala,” which was named best documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is packed with bad news that isn’t nearly as fresh as the movie pretends. It has already been widely reported that in São Paulo, a city of 20 million where the rich live side by side with the destitute, an epidemic of kidnappings has produced a thriving business in bulletproof cars.
One particularly paranoid man confesses that he always carries two wallets, one to give to robbers. He looks forward to having a computer chip implanted in his body that will reveal his whereabouts to the authorities should he be kidnapped. He attends a special course for armored-car owners that leaves him feeling more insecure than before; he learns that close-up rifle shots can penetrate a bulletproof windshield. Many of the city’s rich now feel safe only when traveling by helicopter.