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Exclusive Online Premiere: “Rio Breaks,” a Story of Surfing and the Favelas

Exclusive Online Premiere: “Rio Breaks,” a Story of Surfing and the Favelas (photo)

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Update: The free screening of “Rio Breaks” is now over — thanks to everyone who watched!

There’s no shortage of gorgeous surfing documentaries out there. “Rio Breaks,” directed by Justin Mitchell and newly available on DVD from Factory 25, aims for something beyond just stunning surf footage, following two boys growing up in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous, drug gang-infested favelas. For Fabio and Naama, surfing provides a temporary escape — and possibly a permanent one, if they can manage to navigate their way onto the pro circuit.

This week only, you can watch “Rio Breaks” in its entirety below — if you enjoy the film, consider picking up the DVD.

Here’s a statement from director Justin Mitchell:

When I first decided to make a surf film, I knew that I needed to find a story to tell where surfing was the thread rather than the focus. That, and the story couldn’t be yet another tale of following pro surfers around the world to top surf spots — we’ve seen that a million times. So when I read Vince Medeiros’ magazine article back in 2003 about a favela surf club for kids operating out of the violent hills of Rio de Janeiro, I knew right away that I’d found something special. I immediately contacted Vince in London and somehow convinced him that we had to turn his article into a feature length documentary. Seven years later — here is “Rio Breaks.”

In the film, surfing, both the act itself and the lifestyle that comes along with committing yourself to it, is something that can keep these kids from dying with a gun in their hand. So surfing is the thread of the film and for our main characters, Fabio and Naama, it’s the thing keeping them going as we follow them through a critical year in their lives. Sure, there are lots of other activities that keep kids out of trouble but just imagine what happens in Rio when a favela kid encounters that overwhelming joy of riding a wave. Just with any surfer, when you’re on that wave, nothing else matters. You’re not thinking about anything, just the ride in front of you. And for a favela kid, whether it be for just a moment, a summer, a year or a whole lifetime, to be able focus on something other than the poverty, the drugs, the guns — that’s a pretty powerful thing. That’s what we were trying to capture, how surfing could actually make a difference in these kids’ lives.

One side note: the story of “Rio Breaks” didn’t end with the film. Earlier this year, Luciano Huck, host of one of Brazil’s most popular TV shows, watched the film, dug it and decided to help out. In the show Luciano surprises Naama when he and his TV crew stop by Naama’s house in the favela. At the end of the visit, he says he’ll take Naama to Hawaii and also introduce him to Kelly Slater. (In the film, Naama says he doesn’t believe there are big waves in Hawaii and he’d like to see for himself.) In exchange, Naama had to promise not to join the drug gang, to keep going to school and to learn English. Naama’s meeting with Slater is pretty incredible, truly heart breaking. On their return, Luciano buys the family an apartment, moving Naama and his family out of the favela. The TV presenter has also fully refurbished the surf club. They can now shape surfboards, it has a screening room, dressing room and everything needed to operate as a real surf club. Amazing.

                       –Justin Mitchell, Director
              / /


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…