The Screening Room Blog
Monday, September 29, 2008
'The last 11 minutes were among the best of my life.'
The last 11 minutes were among the best of my life.

The Screening Room team had just spent the morning on Sugarloaf Mountain waiting for Jesus to pop his head through the clouds across the valley for the closing shot on our report on Brazilian cinema -- when another kind of miracle happened.

Our Rio-based fixer Renata told us that a friend of hers was a fan of the show and by great fortune she ran a helicopter company, and that if we took the cable car down to the next mountain within the next ten minutes there would be a chopper on the helipad waiting to take us for a quick spin across the skies above Rio.

After two solid days of rain we were blessed with blue skies as we flew over some of the 700 slums, known as favellas, whose ramshackle shacks and rough brick buildings cling improbably to the hillsides -- the favellas may be poor but they are renowned for having the best views in the whole city.

We circled over Maracana Stadium -- the great cathedral for Brazil's second religion alongside Catholicism -- football. Once 200,000 people used to worship within these walls, but the flock has now been reduced to a mere 100,000 because of safety rules and seating.

Then the flight continued steeply upwards over forested mountains and suddenly we were buzzing the beard of a certain J. Christ, struggling to resist the exclamation "Jeee-zus" as we drank in the breathtaking sight.

Beneath his outspread arms the Saviour looked down on the Citade de Deus and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema and maintained his expression of benevolence.

During the past few days we have witnessed some of the world's swankiest hotels located just across the street from some of the world's most dangerous slums -- and we have met the directors who have illustrated these contrasts in their films.

Looking back at all this, it would be easy to imagine the Christ statue's outstretched arms turning into a shrug of exasperation.

The chopper finally turned and descended back towards the Sugarloaf and the minibus waiting to take us to the airport and back to London, leaving a city behind which has left the deepest impression on me and my colleague Myleene.

-- From CNN's Neil Curry


The Screening Room brings you the inside track on all aspects of the movie business around the globe. Find out what presenter Myleene Klass has been up to, and send us your comments and suggestions for our Top 10 movie list of the month.
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