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CANNES, France (Reuters) - A tough yet touching Brazilian drama follows four brothers in Sao Paulo who turn to football, religion and crime as they try to escape the poverty and monotony of life in the slums.
Unlike other acclaimed Brazilian dramas set in impoverished ghettos of the big cities, directors Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas did not want to make violence and crime central themes, although they linger just beneath the surface.
"Linha De Passe" (Line of Passage) is one of 22 films in the main competition at the Cannes film festival and one of four from South America.
"We didn't want to make a film on drug traffickers or police in down-and-out areas," Salles told reporters after a press screening of the movie.
"We wanted to make a film that clearly showed that violence was being turned down as an option," he added.
"A lot of Brazilian films depict characters who opt for violence, yet 99 percent of young people in Brazil are trying to make it in life, like what you see in the film."
Salles, best known for his 2004 hit "The Motorcycle Diaries," based the brothers' experiences on true stories and used first-time feature film actors in most of the roles in a bid to make the picture feel as youthful as possible.
The absence of a father in the family means the mother of Denis, Dinho, Dario and Reginaldo takes on the burden of household chores, made more difficult by the fact that she is pregnant with a fifth child.
Denis, the eldest sibling, is a motorcycle courier barely making a living speeding through the streets. Reginaldo, the youngest, is obsessed with buses, and finds brief liberation when he steals a bus and takes to the road.
Dinho seeks solace in religion, attending an evangelical church where he suffers a crisis of faith, while Dario turns to that "other" religion, soccer, although he is deemed too old to succeed despite being just 18.
Their interweaving tales are set in a soulless, urban world of run-down slums, traffic jams, dark courtyards, and endless vistas of skyscrapers.
"Sao Paulo is a huge city," said Thomas, who likened it to "the city at the end of the world."
"It has no escape like in Rio. Rio is an incredibly big and dramatic city also, but you have the sea, you have the landscape, you have the sense of redemption in the city."
"Linha de Passe" is the second Brazilian film to screen in the main competition after "Blindness," by Fernando Meirelles, opened the 2008 Cannes film festival on Wednesday.
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)
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