Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Night in Central Park: Summerstage presents CineFest Brasil & "Se Eu Fosse Você 2" at the Rumsey Playfield

Tonight, on the spur of the moment after the rain had stopped and we suddenly felt like going out, we headed for the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park for SummerStage and CineFest Brasil's showing of Daniel Filho's comedy Se Eu Fosse Você 2 (If I Were You 2), which turned out to be an unexpected delight.

We'd been inside all day, nursing a sinus/ear infection and lying around Dumbo Books HQ. Even when the rain stopped, well, it felt like one of those days. But around 7:30 p.m., we thought we'd feel better if we got out of the house. So we headed to the Rumsey Playfield where the Central Park SummerStage events take place.

We haven't gone before partially because we felt the crowds must be very large and perhaps the wait might be long and we might not even get in - but we figured it would be easier tonight with all the day's rain and it being Sunday.

We took the L and 6 trains to 68th Street/Hunter College and were a bit waylaid watching a brother/sister (super's kids) play "hit the penny" on the sidewalk of East 68th Street between Park and Madison. We used to play that in Rockaway during summers in the 1950s and early 1960s and hadn't realized anyone still played "hit the penny." They had a Spaldeen or a good imitation of one, too.

Going over to Fifth Avenue, we started remembering the summer of 1966, when we were 15, and we worked as a volunteer/intern/whatever for the Parks Department in the Lindsay administration, when New York was "Fun City." We worked in The Armory, for a brilliant young administrator and wonderful man named Courtney Callendar, who we excitedly told our parents would probably be the first black President of the United States. Sadly, this great man died young - or at what seems young to us now, at 47 - but there's the Courtney Callender Playground, named for our beloved boss, at Fifth Avenue and 130th Street in Harlem.

Anyway, here is the scoop on tonight's event from SummerStage:

In this Brazilian-themed night, there will be a screening of If I Were You 2 (Se eu fosse você 2), a popular Brazilian film directed by Daniel Filho, and a performance by Silvia Machete. The natural born carioca is renowned for her trademark little red dress, twirling hoops and sensuous guitar work.

And the press release from Cinema Fest Petrobras Brasil:
Between August 2nd and 7th the most cosmopolitan city of the world will get dressed in green and yellow, when the Inffinito Group presentation of the VII Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil – New York brings the best of Brazil’s most exciting new cinema to the Tribeca Cinema. New York audiences will have the opportunity to experience such films as the internationally acclaimed “Romance” and “In Therapy,” winner of Best Feature Film award at the 13th Brazilian Film Festival of Miami earlier this June.

The opening night of this traditional summer event will once again kick off on Sunday, August 2 at 7:00pm with an extravaganza at Central Park’s SummerStage with a concert by leading singer/entertainer/acrobat/pin-up Sílvia Machete, followed at 8:00pm by a screening of Daniel Filho’s comedy, “If I Were You 2,” the most successful film in the history of Brazilian Cinema.

Sílvia will perform songs from her latest release, “I’m Not a Saint,” in a show that mixes music, circus and theatre performances. At last year’s kick Opening Night event, over five thousand people partied through the day and night, and proved that Brazilian culture is undeniably contagious and wildly fun. It was an opening night to be remembered…until this one, of course!!!

Then for the next six days and nights, the Tribeca Cinema will host five daily screenings showing the best of Brazilian filmmaking, all of them eligible for the 2009 Audience Award.

Among the highlighted films being screened during this annual festival are: the documentary “Simonal – Nobody Knows How Tough It Was,” directed by Cláudio Manoel, portraying the life of the famous 70’s singer; Director José Alvarenga Jr’s, comedy “In Therapy,” deals with the pleasures and challenges of modern life; Actress Letícia Sabatella makes her debut as a co-director with screenwriter Gringo Cardia in the documentary “Hotxuá”, a poetic view of the Indian tribe Krahô, a very smiley group that chooses a high priest of laugh; internationally famous cinematographer Walter Carvalho presents his latest film as a director, “Budapest”, based on the homonymous book by Brazilian singer Chico Buarque.

Many of the filmmakers and cast from the VII Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY film presentations will be in New York to attend the festivities and participate in q&a sessions following the films. The VII Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY is an official event of the Brazilian government, is part of New York’s cultural calendar and is supported by the US government.

We missed Silvia Machete, unfortunately, so have to settle for the YouTube version:

Next time we'll try to be on time. When we got to the Rumsey Playfield, the green tarp or whatever it is on the ground was pretty sodden from the day's downpour, with brown puddles that we had to avoid. There was a good sized crowd, and as we got there a bunch of them were running from their seats in the audience to, we think, qualify for a free trip to Brazil or something equally great, at a booth.

Soon the film was introduced. Since we weren't a VIP, we had to stand, and we figured we'd stay only a while, assuming the movie would be kind of dopey, but it was actually very well-done and quite funny, even though it portrayed very stereotypical gender role models.

According to Variety,
Vet helmer Daniel Filho's "If I Were You 2" was designed to be a local summer hit, extending the joke of a couple who get to know each other better by switching bodies, but before its opening Jan. 2, not even those close to the project could have forecast what was about to happen.
The comedy sold more than 6 million tickets, the highest admission level for a local film since 1978. The B.O. reached a record-setting $23 million, more than any other homegrown pic in Brazil's history.

Thanks to "IIWY2," the total B.O. for local pics in the first quarter of this year jumped 117% over the same period in 2008, boosting Brazilian-made pics' share in the total market to 23.8% in the quarter, up from just 13.3% for the same period in 2008.

Anyway, we ended up staying for the whole thing, moving around a bit when someone with seats in the bleachers in the back came over and said we were blocking people's view of the subtitles. It's a nice, breezy, inoffensive and pleasantly diverting comedy with excellent comic actors.

On the 6 train coming home, a trio of young people with Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil brochures were talking excitedly in Portugese. We usually can make out about a third of what people are saying, something we noticed in 1984 during our humorous run for President when Globo, Brazil's largest TV network, wanted to tape us "campaigning" in midtown Manhattan. Several Globo people, including the reporter and videographer, were on the elevator with us, and we had to interrupt them to say we could understand what they were saying about us. They laughed embarrassedly.

We aren't afraid to be embarrassed in front of Brazilians, even when talking to strangers on subways, so tonight on the train we turned to the guy sitting next to us and his friends standing in front of us and said, "Tony Ramos [sic] simplesmente é um ator fantastico. Sensacional."

After that we nodded a lot.

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