Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt March 1 - 2017
RIO DE JANEIRO - Rio de Janeiro's Carni-
val parade is world famous for the samba
dancing, costumes that leave little to the imag-
ination and the magnificent floats that roll
down Avenida Marques de Sapucai, also known
as the "sambadrome." For the competitors,
getting to the big show is months in the mak-
ing. Here are questions and answers about
what goes into the big show that is Carnival:
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Competing schools of samba spend much
of the year preparing for a 75-minute presen-
tation that must include at least six floats to
tell a story in an innovative way - while par-
ticipants dance and sing, of course. The com-
petitions begin on Sunday night and go into
Tuesday morning. The winners get a trophy,
national bragging rights for a year and a party
on Ash Wednesday. Samba schools that fail to
place high are relegated to a second-tier league
the following year. Carnival parades are such
a serious business in Rio that one university
even has a graduation program for samba school
HOW DID THE PARADES COME ABOUT?
In the second half of the 19th century, posh
clubs of Rio organized Carnival parties. Little
by little, these gatherings gave up the elegant
ballrooms and took to the streets. The poor
also had their parties far from the city's elite
south zone. Costumes were often used to sat-
irize politicians. As the 20th century began,
many of these celebrations included "confet-
ti wars" in which groups would throw paper
decorations in the air and at each other. Still,
they were non-moving events that featured
wind instruments and horns, not the drums
and dancing of today.
The first samba school appeared in 1928
downtown Rio. The concept behind "Deixa
Falar" (Let them Speak) was to parade to the
sound of samba, and it was a hit. In 1932,
journalist Mario Filho organized the first com-
petition of samba schools. A tradition was
born that would inspire cities across Brazil.
WHO MAKES UP THE SCHOOLS?
Each of the samba schools of Rio represents
a specific region of the city, often a favela.
However, fans of particular schools usually
have fans all over Rio and even some nation-
ally. Up to 4,000 members can take part in
the parade of each of the 12 top-flight samba
schools in Rio. The heart of the samba school
is the drums section, with at least 200 people.
As a form of reverence, the oldest members
bring up the rear of an ensemble.
Up to 80,000 people watch the parades at
Rio's sambadrome on Sunday night, all Mon-
day and into Tuesday morning. Millions more
watch on television. Tourists are allowed to
participate in samba schools, but their costumes
usually cost more than those for locals.
HOW DOES JUDGING WORK?
Rio's samba school league picks 54 judges
who spread out across the sambadrome. There
are six judges for each of nine criteria, includ-
ing drums section, costumes and samba danc-
Hours before the first parade, a lottery choos-
es four judges for each category. They will
have their scores counted. The other two judg-
es will only be counted if one of the other
four is absent during the parade. The group
that gets the best scores wins.
Sometimes winners and runner-ups are
separated by 0.1 points. There were also sev-
eral occasions in which two or three have tied
WHO SHOULD YOU KEEP AN EYE ON?
The green- and rose-colored Mangueira
group often draws the biggest crowds at the
sambadrome and fans across Brazil. They have
won the parade 19 times, including last year's.
Blue and white Portela is historically the
biggest winner, with 21 titles. Both Portela and
Mangueira are home to some of Brazil's most
popular samba artists.
The red- and white-colored Salgueiro is
seen as the most popular among celebrities.
It has won the parade nine times and it often
has the most popular samba songs that fans
in the sambadrome sing along to.
WHO PAYS FOR IT?
Rio's city hall is investing 24 million Bra-
zilian reals this year (about $8 million). The
rest comes from sponsors, sambadrome tick-
et sales, samba school parties throughout the
year that raise funds and a group of shady
gambling businessmen called "bicheiros."
"Bicheiros" run a widely popular but illegal
gambling game called "jogo do bicho," or "ani-
mal game" in Portuguese. They are sometimes
linked to criminal organizations, and many
sponsor local samba schools to improve their
WHAT WAS THIS YEAR'S
After a day in silence, Rio's evangelical Mayor
Marcelo Crivella delayed the traditionally opu-
lent starting ceremony until 8:30 p.m. Friday
only to skip it with the excuse that his wife
was sick. Rio city hall eventually put out an
email saying that Carnival was "officially open."
Revelers had been waiting hours at the sam-
badrome for the traditional handing over of
the city's key to "Rei Momo," or the king of
carnal delights. This has been always done
with great fanfare in the past. But Crivella sent
the head of Rio's tourism agency to do the
honors. Rei Momo did not give interviews as
usual and instead was quickly escorted out of
the sambadrome by security guards.
It isn't clear whether Crivella, a retired Pen-
tecostal bishop who took office on Jan. 1, will
attend any of the five days of parades at the
sambadrome. Rio's city council has already
authorized him to travel abroad on the next
few days, but he has not announced where he
might go. (AP)
Oscars flap eclipses 'moonlight'
win, but civility reigns
LOS ANGELES - The 89th Academy Awards
got off on the right foot, with a song and
dance, but ended with the most stunning
mistake ever to befall the esteemed awards
show when the best picture Oscar was pre-
sented to the wrong movie. Faye Dunaway
and Warren Beatty, holding an incorrect enve-
lope, wrongly presented the top prize to "La
La Land" instead of "Moonlight."
The moment at the conclusion of the Sun-
day-night show was so jaw-dropping, it
eclipsed everything else in a ceremony that
was packed to the brim with Donald Trump
jabs, fun stunts, heartfelt positivity and a
stunning upset by "Moonlight" over what
had been a "La La" juggernaut throughout
the awards season. Yet somehow, even the
embarrassing moment pivoted into grace.
As confusion and bafflement overwhelmed
those in the Dolby Theatre and at home on
their couches, "Moonlight" director Barry
Jenkins and "La La Land" director Damien
Chazelle shared a hug on the back of the
stage, out of sight from the television cam-
"The folks of 'La La Land' were so gracious.
I can't imagine being in their position and
having to do that," Jenkins told reporters
backstage. "It was unfortunate that things
happened as they did but, goddamn, we won
Oscar tabulators PwC, in their 83rd year
providing the service to the academy, later
apologized in a statement and are investigat-
ing why it happened.
There's no denying, though, that "Moon-
light's" win over "La La Land" was a massive
upset, made only more pointed by the enve-
lope gaffe. Chazelle's candy-colored musical
was widely presumed to be a shoo-in for the
top prize after its record-tying 14 nominations
and a relative sweep of the awards season.
The film still won six Oscars, including best
director for Chazelle, who at 32 became the
youngest ever to take the prize, and for score,
song ("City of Stars") and actress to Emma
The actress, who pledged her deep love of
"Moonlight," said later, "Is that the craziest
Oscar moment of all time? Cool!"
The best picture mix-up apparently wasn't
the only gaffe at the Oscars. An Australian
film producer's photo was mistakenly includ-
ed in the "In Memoriam" tribute. Jan Chap-
man's photo was shown with the name of
Janet Patterson, an Australian costume design-
er who died in 2015. The Academy didn't
respond to a request for comment.
The academy usually throws awards at
films that gaze lovingly at Hollywood, but
Barry Jenkins' heartfelt coming-of-age drama
seduced academy voters in the end - a sub-
tle tide change perhaps informed by both a
prickly political climate and an urgent imper-
ative to honor more diverse films after two
consecutive years of OscarsSoWhite.
Diversity could be found in every corner
of the awards this year, with supporting act-
ing wins for "Moonlight's" Mahershala Ali
and "Fences'" Viola Davis, although the best
actor category proved to be a bit of an upset
when Casey Affleck won for "Manchester by
the Sea" over Denzel Washington of "Fences,"
who had picked up momentum in recent
The improvement followed efforts by Acad-
emy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify
the membership of the largely white, older
and male film academy. "Tonight is proof
that art has no borders, no single language
and does not belong to a single faith," said
Davis gave a particularly powerful speech
in which she praised the late "Fences" play-
wright August Wilson who, she said,
"Exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."
Kimmel said later that Davis, "Just got nom-
inated for an Emmy for that speech."
Ezra Edelman, whose nearly eight-hour
epic "O.J.: Made in America" took best doc-
umentary, dedicated the award to the victims
of the famous crime, Nicole Brown Simpson
and Ronald Goldman.
Rich Moore, one of the three directors of
Disney's best animated film winner "Zooto-
pia," described the movie as about "tolerance
being more powerful than fear of the other."
The majority of speeches were moving and
personal and generally in praise of art's abil-
ity to create empathy in the world, including
Jenkins' in his win for adapted screenplay,
who said, "All you people out there who feel
like there isn't a mirror out there for you,
the Academy has your back, the ACLU has
your back, and for the next four years we
will not leave you alone, we will not forget
you." But not one speech came close to Meryl
Streep's Golden Globes barnburner.
"Personally, I didn't say anything because
my head was completely blank," Affleck said
backstage of his not political speech.
Instead, politics stayed largely with host
Jimmy Kimmel, who kept his barbs coy and
irreverent, stating at the start that he wasn't
the man to unite the country.
The host peppered the evening with digs
at President Trump, at one point asking the
crowd to stand for the "overrated Meryl
Streep," and, later, for any news outlet with
the word "Times" in its name to leave, say-
ing, "We have no tolerance for fake news."
Kimmel even jokingly thanked the president
for shifting the focus of the night.
"Remember last year when it seemed like
the Oscars were racist?" he said in the open-
The evening's most blunt protests against
Trump came not from the A-list stars but
from foreigners, a few of whom were not
even in attendance and could communicate
their sentiments only through statements.
Kimmel, as if predicting that this would
be the case, said early that the Oscars are
watched by 225 countries "that now hate us."
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose "The
Salesman" won best foreign film, his second
win in the category, did not attend the cer-
emony in protest of Trump's travel ban to
seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian astronaut,
read a statement from Farhadi.
"I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight," it
read. "My absence is out of respect for the
people of my country and those of other six
nations who have been disrespected by the
inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants
to the U.S."
Gael Garcia Bernal, the Mexican actor, while
presenting an award, also declared: "As a
migrant worker, as a Mexican, and as a human
being, I am against any wall."
But, of course, the big best picture mistake
will be the thing that history remembers
about the 89th Academy Awards.
"Let's remember this is just an awards
show," Kimmel said at the close. "I knew I
would screw this show up, I really did. I
promise I'll never come back." (AP)
Dancers from the Mancha Verde samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade
in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last Saturday. (AP Photo)
RIO'S CARNIVAL, A HIGH-STAKES
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