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On June 12, 2000—Brazil's Valentine's Day—Sandro do Nascimento held up a bus in Rio de Janeiro's largest public park in broad daylight, taking the passengers hostage.Television crews arrived on the scene just behind the police, and for the next five hours an incredible drama unfolded live to an audience of over 35 million. With absorbing detail, Bus 174 unveils the events of the hold-up as the police negotiate with Sandro with increasing frustration and incompetence. With the television crews so close to the action, whole conversations are recorded. Interspersed throughout are glimpses of this man's tragic background, painting a heartbreaking portrait of a life shaped by the indifference and cruelty that seem endemic in urban Brazil—Sandro grew up in the 'City of God' slums and witnessed the murder of his mother. Completing this compelling portrait, the police and former hostages recall the ordeal, offering insights into the psychological triangle that developed between Sandro, his captives and his pursuers. Bus 174 skillfully encapsulates a moment in time that changes the social and political structures of a nation as questions of power, responsibility and media manipulation are meticulously examined.