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Creative team gives glimpse of preparations for Rio 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony

The team of directors creating the Rio 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony have been discussing their approach. It will be a thrilling fusion of Brazilian culture set to the rhythms of the country’s vigorous musical styles, produced by some of the nation’s best creative talent, and at a tenth of the cost of the London Games. 

Oscar-nominated film director Fernando Meirelles, whose back catalogue includes City of God and The Constant Gardener, said:

We have listened to specialists, like anthropologist Hermano Vianna, who have different visions of what Brazil is. It will be a synthesis of our popular culture.

Meirelles is part of a team including fellow film directors Andrucha Waddington and Daniela Thomas, production executive Abel Gomes and samba school creative director Rosa Magalhães, one of the most famous figures of Rio Carnival.

About 12,000 volunteers will join the casts for the Olympic and Paralympic Games opening and closing ceremonies. While more than 15,000 people have already applied to be part of the shows watched by a global audience of many millions, it is still possible for budding performers from all over the world to get involved.  Rehearsals begin in April next year and continue until the ceremonies (August for the Olympic Games and September for the Paralympic Games).

The vision of the team of directors will be brought to life by Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker and American live-event director Steve Boyd, who has contributed to 13 consecutive Olympic Games. Waddington explained:

We create something on a smaller scale and afterwards it is amplified. We saw last week the incredible moves that Deborah has created with this small group. We have already started to visualise how each movement will work after it’s been multiplied by a thousand people.

Meirelles said the budget would be sensible:

It will be 10 times smaller than for the London 2012 opening ceremony. It does not make sense to be extravagant in this moment that the country is facing. It will not be a high-tech ceremony, it will be high-concept.

Caetano added:

The strength of our ceremony will be working with more people and less things, less props. Because when the party is over, those things create rubbish.

Gomes, a set designer and producer of mega-events such as the huge New Year’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana beach and the Rock in Rio festival, leads Cerimônias Cariocas, the company that will deliver the Rio 2016 ceremonies. Looking ahead to the Olympic Games opening ceremony on 5 August 2016 at the Maracanã Stadium, he said:

It will be the biggest event in all of our lives.

Photo: Fernando Meirelles gained international critical acclaim for his 2002 film City of God. (Photo: Rio 2016/Daniel Ramalho)