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Update: With A Bullet: Documentary Jury Winner Jason Kohn

UPDATE: Manda Bala is a superbly-composed and riveting look at kidnapping and corruption in Brazil. It made its theatrical debut on Friday, August 17 at the Angelika Film Center in New York, with nationwide releases leading through November 2008.


In order to make MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET) [] his Grand Jury Prize: Documentary award-winning film, Jason Kohn did something a first-time filmmaker rarely does. He listened to his parents. His father, relates Kohn, “told me about how this corrupt politician was using this frog farm to launder money. He would bitch and moan about how he could not get business done because of the corruption.”

A frog farm in northern Brazil was only the first step that Kohn took in a complicated path in which he followed dirty money to put together his award-winning mosaic-style tale about the way that crime re-circulates wealth throughout out Brazil. Kohn’s own journey to becoming a filmmaker, however, began long before he’d ever heard about frog farms.

Raised in New York, Kohn visited Brazil often during his childhood His mother’s family is Brazilian and his father maintained a business office there. Over time he became quite familiar with the country’s harsh socio-economic realties as well as the lyrical, exciting and at times surreal contours of its culture.

While studying history at Brandeis, Kohn began to imagine a way to convey his feelings about this country. After having seen a series of Errol Morris films — including his fugue of ambition and identity FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL [] — Kohn discovered a style that fit his own sense of cinema. “There is something about movies,” remembers Kohn. “Something no one else was doing.” After working for a series of Boston production companies, Kohn finally found his way into the office of his cinematic mentor. But no sooner had he secured a research position working with Morris, Kohn left Boston — with Morris’ blessing — to fly south to start shooting his own film. After four and half years of trips to Brazil to shoot, Kohn arrived at Sundance with his documentary

Peter Bowen

Senior Editor, Filmmaker Magazine