Brazil beach as edgy in real life, UH prof says
After seeing "Rio Breaks" at the Hawai'i International Film Festival last year, UH-Mänoa Academy for Creative Media Chairman Tom Brislin made it a point to stop by Arpoador Beach on a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, where the documentary on the Favela Surf Club in Brazil was shot.
"It's a nice niche at the end of Ipanema Beach. The shorebreak is a mix of surfers from the favelas (hillside shantytowns) and the higher-end condos,"Brislin said.
HIFF films have been getting a lot of attention lately. Six that played at last year's festival are in contention for 12 Oscars."Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" is up for six awards (Gabourey Sidibe for best actress, Mo'Nique for best actress in a supporting role, director, film editing, best picture and adapted screenplay), "The Young Victoria" is up for three (art direction, costume design and makeup) and "Miracle Fish" (best live-action short), and "Food Inc. and "Burma VJ"(best documentary) are up for one each.
While "Rio Breaks" isn't an Oscar contender, it is one of the more unusual surf documentary films around, and Brislin said it aptly reflects the rough beach area.
Many of the favelas that ring legendary Copacabana and Ipanema are run by drug lords, and daytime beach strolls turn into nighttime danger zones, Brislin said.
"You might think the hillside fireworks signal a celebration, but they're really an announcement that the latest drug supply has arrived,"Brislin said.
Brislin went to Brazil to visit his son Chris, a Mililani High and Leeward Community College graduate who is the assistant technical operations director for the touring Cirque du Soleil show "Quidam." During his stay, he quickly learned that cabs don't stop at red lights after dark (they just sound their horns and drive through) to avoid being robbed.
"I was advised to keep 50 reais (about $27) in a back pocket to pull out if accosted, as that seemed to be the minimal acceptable sum to rob and walk away," Brislin said. "Fortunately, I never got the opportunity to test the theory, although several of the Cirque crew had."
Brislin's next travels take him to Germany this spring, where he will lead the UHM Study Abroad Summer Program and teach an ACM course "Mass Media and Popular Culture" at Berlin's Freie University.
HIFF's 2010 Spring Festival, incidentally, is April 16-22, but first up is its Oscar Night America Party at Royal Hawaiian Hotel on March 7. The black-tie affair starts at 4 p.m. and is HIFF's major fundraiser.It's also one of 50 official live Oscar-viewing parties across the country. Tickets start at $250 per person, with tables for 10 available and various packages ranging up to $8,000. Call 697-2463, ext. 1, for more information, or go to http://www.hiff.org.