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By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio will become the meeting point of cinephiles and film industry professionals from around the world during Festival do Rio 2010 (Rio International Film Festival), the 12th edition of Latin America’s biggest film festival, which kicks off on Thursday, September 23rd for an ambitious two week run.

Abbas Kiarostami's latest film Certified Copy, which has brought a Best Actress nod to Juliette Binoche at Cannes, will be screened as part of Panoroma do Cinema Mundial, photo courtesy of Festival do Rio.

Over 300 films from more than sixty countries will be screened in movie theaters scattered across the city, while Centro remains the center of the festival, reserving the biggest premieres and events for the downtown venues. The festival has grouped the films under eighteen different programs, while RioMarket, the industry section of the festival offers seminars, classes, and networking events for film professionals.

Premiére Brasil consists of the world premieres of Brazilian films, and is a competitive section in which the viewers vote for the films after the screening. The program aims to attract attention to promising, up-and-coming filmmakers of Brazil, and nine fiction films, eight documentaries, and 21 shorts will be competing for the Troféu Redentor, the festival’s grand prize.

Panorama do Cinema Mundial (Panorama of World Cinema) is a particularly attractive section for Brazilians and foreigners alike, as over seventy new films from all over the world, which are expected to be the among the best of and the most talked-about this year, will be screened as part of the program.

English-speakers not wanting to rely on Portuguese subtitles can explore familiar territory in the films of American directors such as Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Todd Solondz’ Life During Wartime, Gregg Araki’s Kaboom, and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, which is the winner of the Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival; as well as British films including Ken Loach’s Route Irish, and Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me.

Copacabana, the French comedy starring Isabelle Huppert, is one of the most eagerly awaited of the festival, photo courtesy of Festival do Rio.

Panorama do Cinema Mundial also opens a platform for the films that have collected the top awards from world’s most revered festivals, such as the Thai film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the winner of Palme D’Or at Cannes, as well as the new works of various auteur directors from around the world, including Room in Rome from Spain’s Julio Medem, Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, Iranian Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, and Rio de Janeiro resident Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki’s The House of Branching Love.

Smaller programs include retrospectives of master directors Bruno Dumont of France, Amos Gitai of Israel, and Poland’s Jerzy Skolimowski, whilst Brasil do Outro (Brazil of the Others) includes non-Brazilian films about the country.

Mundo Gay (Gay World) offers a platform for gay-themed movies that have little chance of opening commercially in Brazil, along with Midnight Movies, whilst Web Doc focuses on new media by screening material produced for the internet.

Following its tradition of shedding light on one country’s cinema each year, this year the festival is paying homage to its neighbor Argentina with its Foco Argentina (Focus Argentina) program with over ten films. Another festival tradition, the Première Latin (Latin Premiere) program is a selection of films from contemporary Latin American cinema that, along with the Brazilian films, serves as a reminder of the fact that even though it embraces the world and its cinema, the festival’s heart still beats in Rio de Janeiro.

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