If you want to see a film where lawyers are unabashedly portrayed as “the heros,” the free-wheeling documentary Manda Bala would be a great choice. Brazilian AG Claudio Fonteles and other attorneys pursue a corrupt politician for years. I won’t spoil the ending, but rather focus on how the film’s other main theme–the kidnapping crisis in Sao Paulo–challenges the idea that lawyers drag down the economy by redistributing (rather than creating) wealth.
Sao Paulo’s population of 20 million is a study in extremes. Millions lack basic infrastructure, but there is more money concentrated there than the rest of Latin America combined. Recalling Lang’s Metropolis, the upper class lives in high-rises and country houses, maintaining a massive fleet of helicopters to avoid the favelas and traffic below. The helicopters aren’t merely a convenience: an epidemic of kidnapping has made driving (even in bulletproof cars) extremely dangerous. The movie draws an uncomfortable parallel between the politicians who siphon off state funds designated for the poor northern provinces, and the kidnappers who demand ransom from wealthy urbanites: “One steals with the pen, the other with the gun.”