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Amazonas Film Festival in Manaus a few FAQ ahead of our dailies

We will be reporting from Manaus, visiting Amazonas Film festival Those of you who are curious about it should read this.

 http://www.amazonasfilmfestival.com.br/  Manaus, Brasil. 

City or jungle?  

Please keep in mind that although planted in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Manaus is actually the second largest metropolitan area in Northern Brazil with more than 2 million inhabitants.

 

Is Manaus on the Amazon River? 

Manaus is situated on the Rio Negro (means "Black River"), just 10 kilometers upstream from the point this river meets the Solimoes to form what is known, from there, as the Amazon River (Rio Amazonas). The city serves as a travel hub and a distribution center for the river areas of the upper Amazon. You will be impressed by the vast number of river vessels of all shapes and sizes that ply their way from here to every township up and down this great river. Manaus is also the furthest point along the Amazon's deep-water channel, which allows huge ocean liners to come the 2,000 km/1,250 miles upstream from the Atlantic.

 

I’ve hear

 

 
  d that the city was once one of the richest cities on earth. How come?

 

Few Brazilian cities conjure up the mysticism that surrounds the name Manaus. Its remote location and the fact that it is the entry point to the never-ending Amazon forest make of Manaus a very special destination.

 

At the height of the rubber boom (1880s), Brazil had the world monopoly on rubber, based on a tree that only grew in the Amazon. That explains how this remote jungle town, which even today is only accessible by water or air, could have had street lights and trams before most of Europe. It was a time of absurd extravagances, when rich barons and their families would even send their clothes to be laundered in Lisbon and Paris.

 

By 1910, however, rubber seeds were smuggled out of Brazil by an Englishman called Henry Wickham, then planted in Malaysia in vast plantations. With Brazil's monopoly destroyed (and later on with the invention of synthetic rubber by the Germans in WWI), the city was literally plunged into darkness with no money to import coal for the generators.

 

 

If Manaus is so populated, does it means it grows at the expense of the rainforest?

 

Not really. After a long period of decadence, in 1967 the Brazilian Government created the Manaus Free Trade Zone (Zona Franca de Manaus), a free import and export trade area where special fiscal incentives apply.

 

Currently, the second biggest FTZ of South America has 550 non-pollutant high tech companies. They export to Brazil and to the world electronics, computer and telecommunications equipment, mobiles, 2-wheel vehicles and even cinescope used in the Brazilian cinemas. Manaus has a Gross Domestic Product superior to US$ 15 billions, ranked as the 6th highest GDP of Brazil.

 

This industrial rebitrh of the city actually prevented the economic exploitation of the rainforest in the State of Amazonas, where 90% of the rainforest is preserved. Unfortunately that is not the case of other states of the Amazon basin.

 

More on the Manaus Free Trade zone:

http://thebrazilbusiness.com/article/manaus-free-trade-zone

 

 

How is the temperature and climate in this time of the year?

 

We’ll be in the middle of the dry season (a seca) meaning it’s gonna be very hot (that means 40 C plus the humidity)

 

Some people think that in this part of the world, climate is always the same since they we don’t know the concept of winter. However, the alternation between the cheia  –the flooding season (January to July), and the seca  –the dry season (August to December), is a truly awesome phenomenon since it affects the water levels of the Amazon river, provoking profound transformations on the landscape and the way of living of natives of the region.

 

Between the height of the rainy season and the lowest point of the dry season the level of the river suffers a spectacular 15-meter oscillation. 15 meters that have a huge effect on life on the Amazon.

 

During the dry season (when the festival happens) the flooded forests dry up and river beaches appear.

 

To know more about this topic:

http://www.braziltravelblog.com/2010/09/06/cheia-and-seca-on-the-amazon-region/

The festival’s flagship venue is the famous Teatro Amazonas, which is supposed to be a sumptuously grand European-style Opera House. Does it mean we have to prepared for big Galas and a special dress code?

 

Not exactly. Brazil in general, is well known for its relaxed dress code. Obviously that you can’t expect to seat on a red velvet seat under french crystal chandeliers with the same creased T shirts and shorts that you wear during the day for a trip on an Amazon riverboat.

 

Think on what you’d wear for a nice night out on a summer holiday, and you’d probably would be ok.

 

One piece of advice: in all tropical countries in general, air conditioning is a plague. It may sound crazy for some, but it’s a good idea to always bring a coat or a pashmina, specially for indoors activities.

 

To know more about the amazing story of the Teatro Amazonas:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/brazil/1310102/A-night-at-the-opera-and-14-days-on-the-Amazon-to-get-there.html

 

Which are the festival’s main events?*

 

Saturday Nov. 3 : Opening night at the Teatro Amazonas. Welcome Coctail

Monday Nov 5: Boat trip to the Encounter of the Waters (Rio Negro and Rio Solimões)

Friday Nov 9: Day trip to a jungle lodge. return by 4 pm.

Closing night Gala with Parintins Folk Show. Party afterwards.

 

 

I’ve heard the special presentation of the Parintins Folklore Festival during the Closing Ceremony is something not to miss. What is that about?

 

The Parintins Folklore Festival (Festival Folclórico de Parintins) is a popular annual celebration held in the Brazilian city of Parintins, Amazonas. It is the second-largest annual festival in Brazil; second only to Rio de Janeiro ‘s Carnival.

 

Often called Festival do Boi-Bumbá, Bumba Meu Boi, or simply Festival, the event takes place during three days in late June. The festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox. It is also a competition where two teams, Garantido and Caprichoso, (one red and the other blue) compete in extended retellings of the story, each team attempting to outdo the other with flamboyant dances, singing, and parade floats. The place where the teams present themselves is called "Bumbódromo", a round, grounded stage that supports 35.000 people in the audience.

 

The Festival is so popular that even giants like Coca-Cola -which thrust Parintins into the international spotlight some few years ago- had to adapt.  During the Festival do Boi-Bumbá, Coca-Cola is available throughout Amazonas region in special edition cans that are half red, half blue, reflecting the colors of the two teams.

 

More on the Parintis Festival:

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/story?id=118890&page=1

 

Does the Festival offer Awards in cash?

 

Yes. This year the festival decided to include a R$ 20,000 Award for the Best Film of the International Competition (aprox $ 10,000) Also there are cash awards for the Best Brazilian Short Film and the Best Short Film Produced in Amazonas.  The already tradicional scriptwriting contest is mantained, with a R$ 80,000 prize (aprox. $ 40,000) for the production of a film.

 

The trophy is called “Vôo na Floresta” (Flight over the jungle)

 

 

Beside the clothes for the evening screenings, which should we pack?

 

The climate is very hot and humid. Packing thin, light-colored clothing will help you suffer the least during the day. There is little cotton or natural fiber clothing available in Manaus, so don’t count on being able to pick up something on short notice. People seem to prefer synthetic materials, which have the advantage of drying easily without molding.

 

Sandals are a good idea, but also pack a pair of closed shoes and socks (tennis preferably) for any trips on the jungle.

 

In Brazil you’ll get the chance to buy the original Havaianas, the world’s most trendy flip flops, so don’t event think of buying yours at your local store.

 

A trusted mosquito repellent is a smart idea. It keeps other bugs away too and it reduces the risk of being infected by a disease-carrying insect. Additionally, a good guide can show you some natural repellents available in the jungle. Sun block is needed especially during the dry season. A hut or cap, as well as sunglasses are also advisable.

 

Otherwise, keep your luggage to the minimum. Do not take things you do not really need.

 

Tropical countries are famous for their unpleasant extremely air-conditioning indoors. Don’t forget to bring a light jacket or pashmina for the cinema, press conferences, etc.

 

Are we going to get a close encounter with the jungle? how “extreme” conditions can get there?

 

The rainforest and the wildlife of Amazonia are the prime attraction of this area. The festival organises a special program to make sure ours guests get a first hand experience of this but don’t worry that it will be a well-controlled and relatively gentle encounter with the jungle.

 

On Monday (Nov 5) we’ll take a riverboat upstream from the point where the Rio Negro meets the Solimoes to form what is known, from there, as the Amazon River (Rio Amazonas). The "meeting of the waters" (encontro das aguas, in Portuguese) is definitely one of the big highlights of the trip. The reluctancy from both rivers to join creates a beautiful natural phenomenon, two distinct streams of water (one muddy and the other dark like coca cola) flowing along for miles and miles.

 

Hopefully, you'll see pink botos, or Amazon river dolphins. If not, you' can also take a private tour and go swimming with the dolphins at the river. (a truly once in a lifetime experience)

 

On Friday Nov. 9, (the last day of the festival) we’ll departure for a day trip ot one of the jungle lodges near Manaus. There we’ll get the chance to get a glimpse into forest life.

 

We’ll arrive at the hotel at 4:00 pm. After a shower and a short rest will all will get ready for the Closing Night ceremony and the party afterwards.

 

In case you’d like to make a more in depth tour of the jungle and you have some time to stay a few more days, we recommend to take Canoe tours in igarapés, the Amazon's narrow meandering waterways, are an example of what you can do to have closer encounters with wildlife, especially birds and monkeys. Focagem de jacarés, or alligator spotlighting – when the animals are stunned by a powerful flashlight (known as silibim)  is another typical jungle lodge experience which gives tourists a feel for rainforest life, minus big risks.

 

 

How is the local cuisine?

 

You can’t leave Manaus without eating the delicious local fish. Tucunaré, Tambaqui and Pirarucu are three names of fish where you can’t go wrong.

 

You may also want to try tapioca for breakfast: a delicious pancake ( Brazilian style crepe) made from manioc starch, usually buttered and filled with tucumã palm fruit and farmer’s cheese. Or tacacá, an Amazon local soup. Or pamonha, made from green corn and coconut milk boiled in corn husks. Or bolo de macaxeira, a tasty glutinous translucent cake made from manioc. Or sugar cane juice, a favourite drink among locals. The region is also known for its exotic fruits like creamy white cupuaçú and iron-rich açaí.

 

Which is the electricity like down there?

 

In Manaus generally you’ll find 110, although there can be 240 outlets in some places.

 

Brazil has a variety of electrical voltages, sometimes within the same city.  Outlets often accept a variety of plug types, For this reason, many hotels will label their outlets to make sure guests know what type of power they use.  If an outlet lacks a label, this information will often be listed in the hotel services guide.  If in doubt, you should check with reception before plugging in an appliance. They can always lend you an adapter.

 

Check your computer and cell phones AC adapters since most of them come ready for a 110-240 voltage supply.

http://www.world-electric-guide.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*updated  Oct 26. Subject to change.

 

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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