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Travel Film Scholarship - Rio 2013 - Shriya & Eeshit


BRAZIL | Saturday, 27 July 2013 | Views [3225]

As winners of the 2012 Travel Film Scholarship, we went on a 10-day assignment to Rio de Janeiro to film the Carnaval festivities. Check out what we got up to in Rio...

And so our first day of Carnaval in Rio begins...

Watch our video of Carnival Part 1

Watch our video of Carnival Part 2

Our previous days in Rio have been so jam packed, that we decide to take it easy this morning. Some fresh juice and a good breakfast. Eeshit who is a vegetarian has been practically living on Pao Queijo - Bread and Cheese. And ofcourse the occasional Subway. I on the other hand,have enjoyed trying different dishes.We head to Leblon for a nice lunch with Chris, Brian and Carolina from Air B’n B. Unlike most of the other days that we have been here, today isn’t too hot or too gloomy. It’s  ujst perfect to be on the stands at the Sambadromo for one of the most exciting nights of our lives where Eeshit and I will be joining more than 85 thousand people to cheer for the parading Samba schools.

This is the heart of Brazil. Everything that the Brazilians truly love comes together in this parade - Samba, the costumes,the gorgeous people and a celebration of Brazilian culture.  What started off as carnival celebrations on the streets is now this extravaganza  where the best samba schools parade down this 700 m avenue for the people of Brazil. The parade takes place over 3 days with different Samba schools competing in different groups. 

We are here on Day 2 where some of the popular samba schools like Mangueira, Beija Flour, Villa Isabel will be competing. Each Samba school parades for 90 minutes with a singer narrating the story and dancers performing based on the theme that they have chosen.

We get in there early to avoid traffic and grab some dinner to fill our stomachs to last the night.

After the traditional King Momo opening ceremony, the parade began. The energy cannot be described.I was stunned for each of those 90 minutes, awe struck by the attention to detail in every float, every costume and the sheer passion of every performer. The floats are gigantic and works of art. Fire breathing Dragons, galloping Horses, Robots, rotating castles.There was an occasional accident or two with fire breaking out in one of the floats but it was all handled very well.

 It was interesting to know that each Samba school is associated to a particular favela or neighbourhood in rio and all the efforts behind the costumes and the  floats are done by the passionate volunteers of all ages for whom contributing to this parade, is a matter of immense  pride.  It is unbelievable to see the hardwork that goes into putting all these varied elements together.

Since we were seated where the parade ends, we got a better view of the gorgeous floats and the dancers who by the end of their 90 minutes,were bearing the brunt of their massive heals.  This is a side that I did not expect to see. Ambulances were prepared o ferry the dancers who had fallen sick or who might need urgent medical attention . There are massive cranes to lift up people who are right on top of the floats.The behind the scene coordination and activity is absolutely commendable.

The samba schools represent the community spirit of the neighbourhood that they come from. They bring in such a strong sense of belonging and have a huge impact on the people. I was overwhelmed by  this spectacular show of human spirit. Preparations for the carnival span over many months with thousands of people joining rehearsals and working towards the floats, costumes and other elements.

Every theme that is picked by the competing samba schools resonates with the heart of the people.  Right now there is nobody as happy as these guys right here. This energy is everything that they truly live for. I felt so blessed to be witness to this extravaganza. I realize now why it is on every travellers bucket list.

The faces of the dancers are beaming with joy. I can only try to imagine how they must be feeling. It  has been an overwhelming night for us. To the world, this is the greatest show on earth, but to the Brazilians, it is a mark of their identity and human spirit. For the people, by the people, about the people. 

We leave around 330 am. As we are heading out, we see a lot of floats that are being dismantled. It really breaks my heart to know that after months of preparation , these floats have to be torn down to bits.  I pick up a feather that I find from one of the floats as a memory of the hardwork, passion and unbelievable creativity that I was fortunate enough to be witness too.

As we were walking out of the premise, we saw a man randomly dancing alone with music blasting from his car speakers .

Even after we got home and went to bed, I could still see the glittering visuals and feel every beat of the Sambadromo in my heart.

- Shriya Pilgaonkar & Eeshit Narain

Watch our video of Carnival Part 1

Watch our video of Carnival Part 2

Tags: brazil, carnaval, celebration, festivals, film, filmmaking, music, rio, scholarship, south america

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