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Brazil, Argentina, Italy · 2003
Rated R · 2h 28m
Director Héctor Babenco
Starring Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Milton Gonçalves, Ivan de Almeida, Aílton Graça
Genre Drama

In this film based on real events, doctor Drauzio Varella begins to carry out an AIDS prevention program inside Latin America’s largest prison: the Casa de Detenção de São Paulo, known also as Carandiru. He listens to the life stories of the prisoners in his program, and watches as tensions between the police and prisoners build to a shocking act of violence.

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Film Threat by

A large, magnificent cast brings this story vividly to life, supported by superb art direction and technical contributions. Capped by Babenco's vigorous, often ferocious direction, the film is a towering achievement, offering an unforgettable portrayal of the lives and plight of the forgotten.


Variety by Deborah Young

A low-structure, high-involvement Brazilian free-for-all destined to take its place among hellish prison films, Carandiru plants a fist in the viewer's stomach.


L.A. Weekly by John Patterson

Babenco's kindly, concerned eye seeks out the humanity in even the worst of his characters, and by the time he re-creates the massacre, with shocking power and force, one has been equally captivated and appalled at the world he shows. The result is one of the richest prison movies in years.


USA Today by Mike Clark

The warden implores the prisoners to relinquish their weapons, and out of the cells come flying a zillion blades of all sizes. In a Mel Brooks movie, this bit would be funny. Here, it sums up the chilling situation in five seconds.

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