By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Over the last year Mark Lassise and his video crew have been traveling to every World Cup host city on a mission to find foreigners who have made Brazil their home and to record their first-hand experiences of infrastructure, communication and travel throughout the country for the SporTV (owned by Globo) show “Olhar Estrangeiro” (“A Foreigner’s Perspective”).
Hailing from New York City, Lassise has lived in Brazil for five years and has been making film and video about sport from the perspective of an outsider for almost as long, in the process gaining a following of fans throughout the country. “I arrived with a dream to make the show. It started as ‘American in Brasil’ in 2008 but SporTV wanted to change the name to be more Brazil-friendly.”
“The show has been very well received by Brazilians. I always get stopped on the street with compliments on the show. We focus on the positives but question everything with a foreign eye as well. I think our Brazilian audience appreciates the honesty and they like to see me in funny situations.”
As a country of continental proportions, most visitors to Brazil are doing well if they see more than three states. During his time here, Lassise has journeyed far and wide and unsurprisingly has found that these trips, including the latest journey to the World Cup host cities have given him a more complete vision of Brazil.
When The Rio Times last spoke to Lassise, he was about to head off on a tour through the mountains and valleys of Brazil with a group of base jumpers for his sports adventure show “Fortuna”, though despite these high-octane pursuits and having seen so much of the country, he still feels he has a lot to discover in Brazil.
“There have been many surprises during the filming of the [latest] show. The top two that come to mind was when I was in Manaus and I got to swim with the ‘botos’ [pink dolphins] of the Rio Negro. The other was in Curitiba, I was shocked by how much it reminded me of Silver Spring, MD (in the Washington DC suburbs), clean with the hustle and bustle of a small U.S. city, it was wonderful.”
While his visits to the host stadiums has drawn to a close, Lassise’s World Cup journey is by no means over as he will be producing content for the American news outlet Tout.com throughout the tournament. Once the competition draws to a close in July, Lassise and Olhar Estrangeiro will then be turning their focus on Globosat running up to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Five years into his life and travels throughout Brazil, Lassise thinks he still deserves his ‘estrangeiro’ title. “I still feel like a foreigner but a more experienced one that can blend in when needed, especially when it comes to business in Brazil, as it is very different to the States.”
Though he feels that his outlook on life has changed to become more Brasileiro: “We are all struggling to make our dreams happen and to stay afloat. Everyone that lives here without a golden spoon understands and appreciates this. The little special things like a sunset on Ipanema beach, a trip to Prainha or the mountains of Petrópolis are very important to help keep going in Brazil!”