RIO DE JANEIRO — Critical Divide’s Chris Pickard, a veteran not only of Brazil but also of the Rio Fest and RioMarket, has unveiled a bevy of Brazil-based projects under the banner of The Sound of Brazil.
Pickard, who was responsible for the original idea and for co-producing Julien Temple’s “Rio 50 Degrees,” which has screened at the Festival, told Variety he aimed to have most of the slate ready to air in 2016, the year of the Rio Olympics and Paralympic Games. He is hopeful some may even be ready for 2015, when Rio celebrates its 450th anniversary.
The season of music documentaries and performance films is being developed with the BBC in the U.K., and other international broadcast partners. Films look to build on the growing cultural partnership that started to develop between Brazil and the U.K., and especially Rio and London, during the 2012 London Olympics.
With the ever-closer cultures of Brazil, the U.K. and Europe in mind, a first project comprises a three-part series looking at the evolution of musical culture – and dance- in Brazil from the arrival of the first missionaries to the very latest sounds and musical talent. For the U.K. and certain international markets the programs will be presented by Katie Derham, the face of classical music at the BBC as well for the BBC Proms. Derham, like Pickard, has long-standing family ties with Brazil.
Partnering Derham and Pickard in developing the season are James Joseph of Creedence Productions, a highly respected and well-connected music and entertainment lawyer whose management company, with offices in London and Los Angeles, looks after Nina Simone, Cleveland Watkiss, Cassandra Wilson and Julian Joseph, amongst others, and Mark Barrett, ex-head of Classical Music at BBC Worldwide Music and previously Classical Manager Europe at Sony Music Entertainment.
A number of Joseph’s clients have toured Brazil and worked with Brazilian artists in Brazil as well as in the U.S. and Europe. He has also filmed programs and projects in Brazil with Fernando Meirelles and O2 Filmes.
One of those larger projects, which Joseph expects to have wide international appeal, is a special “homecoming” concert in Rio de Janeiro for musician Sergio Mendes. It would include many leading international and Brazilian names that have collaborated with him over the years, including talent featured on the soundtracks of Fox’s animated films “Rio”. There will also be a full standalone documentary about Mendes who was the artist who took Brazilian music global in the 1960s, and is often better known internationally than in his own country and city.
“We hope to stage the concert in 2015 as part of Rio’s 450th anniversary celebrations and then have the programand documentary ready to broadcast in 2016 which will be the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sergio Mendes, plus Brasil’ 66 by Herb Alpert,” Pickard explained.
Also on the slate is a program about Brazilian baroque music with Harry Christophers and a Brazil Sixteen; a look at the club scene in Rio, São Paulo and Salvador its sounds in “Brazil: Shaken and Stirred…with a Twist of Hackney”; and a docu exploring how musical talent is fostered in Brazil: “From Tin Cans to Strings.”
The most ambitious part of the slate turns, however, on a program series is a series that will introduce and showcase Rio’s Carnival parade by parachuting six major international names into the city’s iconic event to mirror certain elements of the parade.
Pickard first developed the project with the late Gus Dudgeon, Elton John’s producer for many years, who realized there was no accessible TV title to capture a larger audience and explain what actually happens in artistic terms with the parade. As Dudgeon noted, Carnival is more spectacular than any rock show he had seen, even Elton’s.
“I have been involved with carnival for over 30 years – so I have form in this department,” Pickard says.
“It is now a question of getting our final ducks in a row before more details can be unveiled as it requires a somewhat complex relationship of working not only with the Mayor’s office in Rio, but also the League of Samba Schools and TV Globo that so brilliantly film the parade to broadcast live over two nights to Brazil.
He added: “This program, I can promise, will help open the eyes of the world to what an astonishing and creative event the parade is. Our stars are also going to have a lot of fun along the way and they will be the catalyst to build a large global TV audience.”
If Pickard and the team can get everything to align, they will look to film during carnival 2016 and have the edited shows ready for broadcast prior to the Rio Olympics that open on Aug 5 2016.
Pickard held meetings related to the project while at the Rio Festival.