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Brazil to promote tourism with release of 'Rio'

/ Source: The Associated Press

Brazil's tourism agency plans to use the global release of the 3-D animation movie "Rio" to promote the country as a destination for foreign tourists.

Embratur said Wednesday a short promotional video — "Brazil Calls You. Celebrate Life Here" — will be shown in theaters in 10 nations around the world just before the film is screened this weekend.

There will be 7,500 showings of the video at 250 movie houses in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Italy, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain and the United States.

Besides promoting Brazil, the video is aimed at reducing concerns that foreigners may have about violence in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian city most visited by tourists, an Embratur official said. The official agreed to discuss that aspect of the video only if not quoted by name.

Rio is frequently in the news as a city rife with drug-gang violence in its vast slums.

In 2009, police began an ambitious "pacification" program in which security forces clear heavily armed gangs from slums and establish a police presence. The program aims to reduce violence in the city before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games and improve the lives of shantytown residents by bringing in basic services.

"Rio," which was directed by Brazilian Carlos Saldanha, opened last month in Brazil.

It is the story of Blu, a rare blue macaw born in Brazil but raised in Minnesota, where he never learned to fly. Blu travels to Rio de Janeiro after his owners learn a female blue macaw has been discovered there, then amid a series of adventures falls in love with her and learns to fly while rediscovering himself among sweeping views of the city.

"It is very important to take advantage of this visibility to promote our diversity," Embratur president Mario Moyses said in a statement. "Besides Rio de Janeiro, which everyone should visit, we have natural beauties: beaches, sun and destinations for anyone seeking culture, sports, ecotourism, and adventure and business tourism."