It is an adventure like no other, sitting in a dark room surrounded by strangers watching rapidly flashing images edited with sound while collectively going on a journey without leaving the theater. If the experience of going out to the movies is or has ever been in danger of losing its appeal, one would never guess that in Rio de Janeiro this past week.
Lines of people stood waiting at box offices around the city. While inside more lines formed consisting of those waiting patiently to enter the theaters. Groups in Estação Rio SESC sat at tables with festival programs and pens circling titles, flipping back and forth between synopses and showtimes.
People spoke to another in line making recommendations. One woman eagerly pulled out a handwritten list of the films including showtimes and alternates that she had scribbled sometime since the opening of the festival. She paused when asked about a film not on her list saying, “Oh, i want to see that one too. It’s on another paper in my purse”.
Multiple “to see” lists being discussed and talk of other international festivals attended this year combined while talk of “buzzes” formed a new buzz, a low hum of voices in lobbies throughout the city.
checking programs in Botafogo
This was the first week of the 14th edition of Festival do Rio, Rio’s international film festival.
Inside the theaters crowds laughed during “Magic Mike”, cried at the end of “Algumas Horas de Primavera” and admired the drawings and animation of “Cor de Pele: Mel”. Often many lingered in their seats reading the credits after the films had finished and then upon exiting pulled out their guidebooks to decide what to see next.
The heart of the cinema was alive and beating. The rhythm sounding through the ripping and punching of tickets, crunching of popcorn and footfalls of filmgoers on the march to see the best Brazil and the world of film had to offer.
The differences in the various venues was almost as fascinating as the films that were playing within them. Some theaters were inside malls (or “shopping” as they’re called here) while others were grand theaters with curtains in front of the screens, while still more were in buildings in a row of buildings only distinguishable as theaters by their marques.
The hills were alive with the sound of reels spooling out, wrapping around the city, reflecting it back to itself while concurrently entwining it with the world.
That was the first week of Festival do Rio which continues citywide until Oct. 11th.
The complete program PDF is available here