Meet the team be­hind spec­tac­u­lar Rio cer­e­monies

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

The Rio Sum­mer Olympics wrapped up in grand style - with a car­ni­val-in­spired pa­rade, fire­works and the Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe dressed up as Su­per Mario for the Tokyo 2020 flag han­dover. Spec­ta­tors can ex­pect the same en­ter­tain­ing and vi­brant open­ing num­ber for the 2016 Sum­mer Par­a­lympics on Wed­nes­day.

The Ital­ian com­pany Film­mas­ter, with of­fices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, KSA and Qatar, along with Brazil­ian part­ner SRCOM, are the peo­ple be­hind these cer­e­monies. After their bid in 2011, Film­mas­ter was awarded the or­gan­i­sa­tion the han­dover of the flag from Lon­don 2012, and the open­ing and clos­ing events for both the Rio Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games, medal award­ing cer­e­mony, torch re­lay and other mi­nor cer­e­monies in be­tween. It sounds like a huge un­der­tak­ing, but ac­cord­ing to Film­mas­ter MEA CEO, Piero Cozzi, the best prepa­ra­tion is putting in place and man­ag­ing a highly pro­fes­sional team. Cozzi says the idea for the open­ing cer­e­mony was to pro­mote “peace with the planet” and cel­e­brate Brazil’s cre­ativ­ity. “We wanted to fo­cus on sav­ing the planet, the fu­ture – cel­e­brat­ing to­geth­er­ness, and reach be­yond the coun­try’s bor­ders, speak­ing as one,” he says.

“Film­mas­ter opted to shed light on the on­go­ing cli­mate change con­cern as well as the de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources. We opened with a strong mes­sage that will echo the world over to stop harm­ing the planet and start heal­ing it. ‘Earth­lings, let’s re­plant, let’s save the planet!’ was our mes­sage.”

The clos­ing cer­e­mony was a sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence that ex­plored dif­fer­ent Brazil­ian art forms, with lots of singing, danc­ing and drum­ming. “We wanted to re­in­force ca­ma­raderie across na­tions who have come to present their tal­ents to the world. We wanted to bring out the emo­tions in peo­ple and let them re­dis­cover their own iden­tity and con­tinue to rein­vent them­selves.”

In any big pro­duc­tion, chal­lenges are in­evitable. Cozzi adds: “The chal­lenges we en­coun­tered dur­ing the prepa­ra­tion were the big eco­nom­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. This im­pli­cated bud­get costs but also a tougher gen­eral sit­u­a­tion. For­tu­nately, we have come up with a uni­ver­sal theme that helped us.”

But the clos­ing cer­e­mony was even more hec­tic: “We are all un­der pres­sure as the weather got worse. Ev­ery­thing was at risk at that time and we thought we might not be about to do it as the wind was up to 80kph, jeop­ar­dis­ing the whole cer­e­mony.

“Fire­works were on standby for safety rea­sons un­til two min­utes be­fore the events. Ath­letes were repo­si­tioned last minute as well. But all was han­dled su­per ef­fi­ciently.”

All these fac­tors have pre­pared them well for the up­com­ing Par­a­lympics, with Cozzi in­sist­ing: “We have the tech­ni­cal and op­er­a­tive struc­ture on site. We are aware of all possible sur­prises. It is al­ways chal­leng­ing but at least slightly less stress­ful this time. You’ll see a dif­fer­ent ap­proach here. The much-awaited part would be the high spirit of the Par­a­lympic ath­letes - ea­ger to show the world their strength and courage.”

The UAE will be host­ing the Expo 2020, but is the coun­try ready to pull off the Olympics? “I am sure it can,” he says. “The UAE has proved it­self on many oc­ca­sions. Film­mas­ter MEA has been op­er­a­tion in the Mid­dle East since 2007. We’ve seen the rich cul­ture of the coun­try and it is very in­ter­est­ing.” His ideas for a theme: “The lo­cal el­e­ments should be the key point in the plan. It can also be in­te­grated with fu­tur­is­tic el­e­ments and tech­nol­ogy; and of course a unique sur­prise el­e­ment for the fi­nale.”

FLY­ING COLOURS: De­spite the bad weather and bud­get cuts in Brazil, the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics ended in real style at the Mara­cana Sta­dium in Rio de Janeiro

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