Top Movies Based on True Stories: City of God

There are hundreds of movies based on true stories- some that are made direct to DVD or for TV, and others that are released in theaters. The list below names the top movies (in my opinion) that are based on true stories. Not only are they rated by just how widely known they are, but just how close they stick to the actual occurrence of events.

2. City of God: 2002 (Brazil, 2003 worldwide) Directed by Fernando Meirelles, starring Alexandre Rodrigues as Rocket, Leandro Firmino as Li’l Zé, and Seu Jorge as Knockout Ned.

A foreign Brazilian film that was released in Brazil in 2002, but worldwide in 2003, has quite the story behind it.  The movie was adapted from a novel called City of God as well, by Bráulio Mantovani, it has been nominated for 4 Oscars (which is a pretty big deal for a foreign movie) and won a BAFTA award. The story is basically about a boy named Rocket who grows up in the housing projects the government made called the City of God. Murders and gang violence are an everyday occurrence within the city, and it shocks you to realize that this is actually based on a true story.

If you look at the ending, the credits show not only the actors and their characters, but also pictures of the real life people their roles were based on. City of God is an actual slum (favela) in Brazil that the government made and abandoned in the 1960s. It has been noted that mass violence grew, not only because the government and authorizes were corrupt, but because there were mass movements of people going within the city, leading from a “competition” of robberies and minor crimes to the selling of drugs and major gun sales.

Filmed in a “Tarantino” styled sequence (from ending to beginning), there is a real gang that has precedence within the slum, the Comando Vermelho. The director even stated that if he knew the dangers he faced actually filming on location at the slums, he would have never done the movie. Many of the actors that were in the film were not actors at all- but actually people who lived in the City of God and/or were part of gangs. One key scene is when the members of the gang pray, since a boy who had been in a gang had told the director that before any big fight, the members of the gang would always pray. In the scene where Rocket goes to Marina’s house, he tells her that he had never taken a hot shower- or a shower for that matter- before. That was not scripted but actually Alexandre Rodrigues telling Marina about his life in the slum.  The film itself is a true recount of the actual gang violence that happened between Knockout Ned (not because he can knockout someone-although he could- but because he is also very good looking) and Li’l Zé. Also, the little runts happen to be Caixa Baixa gang in Brazil.

In all, this movie is probably a 99% accurate account of how things took place between the gangs, and a 100% of how living in the City of God might be like- however ironic the name sounds.


Catherina has been writing since she was 14 years old- screenplays, movie reviews, sports stories and anything in between. Living in New York City, she can tell you any fact about any movie. She writes screenplays in her free time and is a huge Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey and Quentin Tarantino fan. You can contact her at