About 15 years ago, I was invited to the newly-organized Anima Mundi Animation Festival in Brazil. It was exciting to see all of the enthusiasm and talent from the young attendees at the festival, and because my films are popular in Brazil, I was recently invited to do a career retrospective screening and Master Class in both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, put together by Boulevard Filmes and sponsored by Caixa Cultural.
By coincidence, the two-city tour came as Brazil was in a rush-rush hustle to finish all of the venues and install a new trolley system for the 2016 Summer Olympics. And if that weren't enough, their president, Dilma Rousseff, was up for impeachment, and everywhere I went, there were protests and political controversy.
I started out in Sao Paulo, where they held the first massive screening, and then I did my Master Class, which apparently sold out in 24 hours - that was fun.
I then flew to Rio, where I stayed in the Copacabana area, so I was able to swim every morning, singing the song "The Girl From Ipanema". Unfortunately, that was also the location of a massive demonstration on the night of the impeachment vote. Everyone told me to stay inside, and for God's sake, don't wear anything red. That's the color of the opposition, and there had been reports of citizens wearing red getting beaten up. I sure didn't need that. However, when I went out for my afternoon swim, the protestors were very friendly and didn't bother me a bit.
As you may have read, the Lower House easily voted for impeachment, and now it goes to Brazil's senate, where it may also pass. Then the President has to plead her case to the government, and who knows what will happen then.
In any case, my screenings and Master Class in Rio were also well received. So I had a great time in Brazil, and definitely check out Anima Mundi, it's a wonderful film festival.
However, there was one negative note in my visit to Rio - apparently, they've passed a law that outlawed topless sunbathing - which is really weird because here in NYC's Times Square, you can see topless women all the time. What's the world coming to?