Rio I Love You: Avant-Premiere

“Rio I Love You” has finally come to Lebanon!

Co-directed by and featuring Nadine Labaki, the long-awaited anthology film premiered yesterday, September 30, 2014, at CineMall Dbayeh.

Rio I Love You (2014)
Rio I Love You (2014)

The pre-screening event boasted a live singer and her band performing a set list in Portuguese, setting the mood for what is to come. As expected, the movie theater swarmed with cameramen, interviewers and guests, all chattering excitedly. And a most elegant red carpet decorated the premises, which were abuzz with courteous waiters serving tasty desserts and sparkly drinks.

After we all took our seats, Ghassan Chidiac, owner of CineMall and exclusive distributor of the film for the ME region, introduced Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki, who had a few words to say about her new film.

She started by introducing the team who collaborated with her: Khaled Mouzanar, Nadine’s husband, composed the score for her segment and co-wrote the dialogue with screenwriter Rodney Al Haddad. The director of cinematography Yves Sehnaoui was also present.

Nadine Labaki directing "Miracle" in Rio I Love You
Nadine Labaki directing “Miracle” in “Rio I Love You”

Speaking of the film, she explained that it is composed of 11 parts, which were directed by 11 different directors. The challenge was to create an 8-minute movie, shot on location in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The whole experience, she confided, was new to her: she did not know whether she could successfully convey her message in a language foreign to her, as opposed to her previous movies, in which Lebanese Arabic was spoken.

Shooting the segment was also very challenging: on one hand, she shared the screen with renowned actor Harvey Keitel. But the essence of the segment relied on 10 year-old Cauã Antunes who had no previous experience in acting, and an attention span of about 10 seconds! Trying to manage everything at once required hard work, and she happily gushed that the end-result received positive reviews in Brazil, where the film has just been released.

Nadine Labaki and Cauã Antunes
Nadine Labaki and Cauã Antunes

She ended her speech by dedicating the segment to her parents, who were coincidentally celebrating their wedding anniversary on the same day. And finally, she wished us a good time and the entire crew left as the movie began.

Fear not, I shall not spoil the film for you! But I will say this:

By far, the best segment in the movie is, in my opinion, Nadine Labaki’s “Miracle”. Cauã Antunes is quite the show-stealer, the direction is marvelous and the dialogue is hilarious!

The film is truly a love letter to Rio: the oddly shaped hills were pictured front and center in almost all segments, and Latin music accompanied the actors from start to finish.

Beautiful as it may be, the movie felt unequal: some segments were much more entertaining or better constructed than others, and the ensemble lacked continuity. I would have liked to see some kind of subtle narrative element that connected the segments a bit more.

All in all, the experience was enjoyable. I loved every scene of Nadine Labaki’s segment and I’m sure “Miracle” will stand out in every critic’s review all over the world.




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