Graduate student Joshua Jelly Schapiro reviews the film "Manda Bala."
In the opening scene of “Manda Bala,” director Jason Kohn’s much-lauded new documentary about social corruption in Brazil, we are introduced to a “frog farmer.” The farmer jokes, over the din of croaks emitting from frog-filled vats arrayed behind him in the sun, that he loves his amphibious flock more than he loves his wife. “She told me,” he explains with a ready smile: “you choose the frogs, or you choose me; I chose the frogs.” Moments after he makes this crack, however, we watch the farmer’s mood darken. When his off-camera interlocutor asks him about a scandal involving this, the largest frog farm in the world, the color drops from his face. After a few beats’ silence, our farmer recovers his cheer but says only that o scandal isn’t something he can really discuss.