2016, Movies

In the Shadow of the Hill (2016, Dan Jackson)

This is a thorough, engrossing and, for its subject matter, pretty to look at film about a favela in Rio and the problems that have occurred since the police “pacified” it in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup of Soccer. There is a lot here of interest and the film is quite well shot.

There are, however, two major problems for the film that make it a bit of a chore:

  1. The most glaring is the pacing. The film feels like it is well over two hours long but it is not even 2 hours; it drags in many parts and also feels like it is going to end multiple times before it ends.
  2. The second huge issue is what this film is about: Is it about police corruption in this favela and their practices of disappearing people? Is it about three people trying to make their way through the pacification? Is it about what happened as Brazil tried to make Rio palatable for the world prior to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics? Is it about one particular man who disappeared and who has stood as a symbol for these disappearances? Is it about the efficacy of social protest in the face of unrelenting abuse of power? I’m not sure, because the film was, at times, about all of these things.

I think both problems stem from the likely fact that the filmmaker was immersed in the favela when these various things happened and he took what he had and put it together and, as developments occurred, he added them. It’s clear he hasn’t done this before.

But it’s still worth watching – it’s certainly eye-opening and is, at times, very moving. But it’s a flawed movie.


  • Directed by Dan Jackson
  • Written by Dan Jackson
  • Produced by Dan Jackson
  • Music by Kevin Kiner
  • Cinematography by Dan Jackson
  • Filming by Dan Jackson Steve Robinson
  • Editorial Department:
    • Jonathan Burton: colorist
    • Tim Morton: digital imaging assistant
  • Sound Department:
    • Doron Kipen: re-recording mixer
    • Mark Street: sound editor
  • Visual Effects by Rui Livisual
  • Camera and Electrical Department: Tynan Callesen, camera operator
  • Music Department:
    • Jared Forman: composer, additional music
    • Dean Kiner: Composer,  additional music
    • Phillip Peloubet: Composer, additional music
  • Other crew: Clement Dunn, legals
  • Production Companies: Future Paradigm Pictures

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