Synopsis by Mark Deming
Filmmaker Silvio Da-Rin looks back at a remarkable moment in Brazilian politics and the people who made it happen in this documentary. In 1964, a military coup d'etat drove Brazil's president Joao Goulart from power after he attempted to institute reforms that some believed were influenced by socialism, and a right wing junta controlled the nation for over two decades. The events of 1964 galvanized Brazil's community of students and intellectuals, and by 1969 a number of leftist radicals had banded together to form a group known as MR-8. That year, MR-8 made the boldest move of their lives when they kidnapped Charles Elbrick, the American ambassador to Brazil, and demanded the release of fifteen political prisoners from Brazilian prisons in exchange for his freedom. To the surprise of many, the gambit worked, with the prisoners receiving asylum in Mexico and the event bringing the attention of the world to Brazil's political turmoil. Hercules 56 features interviews with a number of surviving members of the MR-8 group who discuss how they embraced radical politics as well as the nuts and bolts behind the kidnapping. The film received its American premiere at the 2007 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival.