Rio de Janeiro’s International Film Festival opened last night (Oct 1) celebrating the life and work of local hero Chico Buarque who, at 71, remains one of Brazil’s top composers, musicians and singers.

The world premiere of documentary Chico - Artista Brasileiro packed Cine Odeon, a 90-year-old movie theatre that will host public screenings of the most important festival sections, including Premiere Brasil.

As Rio celebrated its 450th anniversary in March, it proved appropriate to open the city’s film festival with a documentary that reflected its spirit and culture.

Directed by Miguel Faria Jr., the film attempts to uncover the man behind the artist simply known as “Chico” in Brazil, with testimonials from the musician and those closest to him.

Chico - Artista Brasileiro centres on the list of the artist who wrote Bossa Nova songs in the 1960s and faced censorship in the 1970s, for attacking the Brazilian military dictatorship in his lyrics.

Chico is also known for books, including Estorvo (1991) and Budapest (2003), which inspired Brazilians films of the same name.

Rio 2015

In total, 250 films from more than 60 countries will be screened in Rio until Oct 13.

The Premiere Brasil competition section will present 41 features and 19 shorts, showcasing what is new in terms of local cinema. The highlights include the world premieres of In Dog’s Words, by Marcos Jorge, Nise - The Heart of Madness, by Roberto Berliner, Beatriz, by Alberto Graça, California, by Marina Person, and Oblivious Memory, by Ruy Guerra, most known for Os Cafajestes (1962) and Os Fuzis (1964), which helped shaped the Brazilian Cinema Novo.

RioMarket, the business arm of the festival, will again present RioSeminars, Workshops and Master Classes, besides Rodadas de Negócios (meetings between producers, distributors, programmers and sales agents from film, television and digital media markets).

The discussions will touch subjet matters such as digital piracy, the regulation of the VOD, the consumer behaviour of the Brazilian film market and the internationalization of the local fims (presenting strategies from the script to the marketing phases).

Hal Hartley will be in Rio to present the films Simple Men (1992), Flirt (1995) and Ned Rifle (2014) and also to conduct a Masterclass.

Others guests during this 17th edition of the festival are Catherine Hardwicke (Miss You Already), Catherine Corsini (La Belle Saison), Su-won Shin (Madonna) and Mabel Lozano (New Girls 24 Hours).

The centenary birthday of the director Orson Welles will also be celebrated with lectures and screenings of films that have been restored and also some of his “lost” works, such as Too Much Johnson (1938), rediscovered in 2008.

One section of the festival will be dedicated to Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation giant, with screenings of recent films, such as When Marnie Was There (2014), and earlier works, including The Castle of Cagliostro (1979).