Fernando Meirelles and Jose Padilha have signed on to direct segments of Rio, Eu Te Amo (Rio, I Love You), the fourth instalment of the Cities of Love franchise created by the French producer Emmanuel Benbihy.

Following Paris, Je T’Aime(2006), New York, I Love You (2009) and Shanghai, I Love You (in pre-production but will shoot after Rio), it will be another anthology film, joining several love stories which will be shot in Rio de Janeiro from May to August 2010.

The announcement was made during Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival (Sept 24 to Oct 8).

“Our aim is to have a diverse collection of talented filmmakers – both established and rising talents, Brazilian and international – to be inspired by and inspire through the context of love in Rio,’’ says Joshua Skurla, CEO of Primum Entertainment Group. Until the end of the year, one more Brazilian helmer (possibly Daniela Thomas) and seven foreigners will join Meirelles and Padilha in the project. “Naturally there are some directors with an affinity for Brazil or for Rio and others who have never been there before. It is important for us work toward a composition of different perspectives, different voices, different cinematic styles, but that all blend into one film.’’  

Primum Entertainment Group acquired the rights last May, during the Cannes Film Festival, and will produce the film with four Brazilian partners: Limite Produções, Oz, Bossa Nova Films and Villa Filmes. Benbihy will be the executive producer. “Rio de Janeiro is a mythic city with a very strong image when it comes to love. It was also important to make a stop in South America,’’ says Benbihy, from Shanghai, via email. “Rio is famous for its natural settings, its music and amazing beaches, besides some of the most famous landmarks, such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain. There is also lots of grace and sensuality there,’’ he adds.

Ten separate segments will comprise the feature film, each of them set in a different neighbourhood. The directors will have the option to choose the area of the city in which their story will take place. “Our challenge as producers is to make the whole of Rio accessible to them early on in the process. Unlike New York or Paris, where many international directors know these cities well, we have to overcome the preconception that Rio is just Ipanema or Copacabana,’’ says Skurla, an American who lives in Brazil. “It is a metropolis with rich and diverse environments from a bustling commercial center to a rainforest protected coastline.’’  

After Shanghai and Rio, the franchise will head to Jerusalem. “I am also eager to do one in Venice, Italy, and one in Timbuktu, Mali,’’ says Benbihy.