Review: ‘Bay of All Sambas’

(Portuguese and Italian dialogue)

(Portuguese and Italian dialogue)

Any Brazilian music fan desiring a leisurely recap of a series of concerts held in Rome the last week of August 1983 will find it in “Bay of All Sambas,” a play on Bahia de Todos os Santos, the renowned center of Brazilian culture, music and art. Practically all of Brazil’s major singers, dancers and musicians appeared onstage at the Circus Maximus in the Roman Forum, offering one or more numbers to huge summer crowds. A documentary of primarily historic interest, pic is destined for TV and video use.

“Samba is the spokesman of history,” notes one performer, as veteran Dorival Caymmi, nicknamed the “black father of samba,” recalls how he launched Carmen Miranda as bossa nova’s ambassador to the world. Docu’s main importance lies in the extraordinary cast of superstars it captures on the same Roman stage: Joao Gilberto, Caymmi, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Moraes Moreira, Nana Vasconcellos, Paulino Boca de Cantor, Batatinha, Armandinho and the Trio Electrico.

Filming is fairly standard concert material, intercut by Brazilian director Paulo Cesar Saraceni with performer interviews. The project was started with Italo director Gianni Amico (scripter for Bertolucci, Godard and Glauber Rocha), who organized the show in Rome, but was halted after the death of Amico and co-director Leon Hirszmann. Saraceni completed the film this August with a great deal of determination and fresh finances from Italo pay TV net Telepiu.

Bay of All Sambas

(BAHIA DE TODOS OS SAMBAS)

Production

(ITALIAN DOCU) An Elio Rumma production. Directed, written by Gianni Amico, Leon Hirszmann, Paulo Cesar Saraceni. Camera (color), Tonino Nardi, Dib Lufti, Luis Carlos Saldanha; editor, Maria Elisa Freire; sound, Dolby stereo; technical direction, Saldanha; associate producers, Fiorella Giovanelli, Amico, Gustavo Dahl for Telepiu. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Special Events), Sept. 4, 1996. Running time: 100 MIN.
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