Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Brazil: Documentary Preview

On June 10, the Discovery Brazil channel is broadcasting a dramatization/documentary of the Sept. 29 mid-air collision over the Amazon.

Here is a link to a short preview now being shown in Brazil. It's in Portuguese, of course. Three things struck me immediately:

1. The actors playing Brazilian air traffic controllers, when they do speak English, speak it well. We know many actual air traffic controllers do not, and the inability of many of them to communicate adequately in the lingua franca of international aviation is one of the reasons pilots are wary of Brazilian air-traffic control.

2. The actor playing me sitting in the interior cabin simulation of the collision-bound Legacy 600 actually bears a striking resemblance to me (they couldn't get Tom Cruise, I hear), except he needs a haircut and he's already dropped the 25 pounds I put on during hard-core traveling over the last 8 years. So I can go off that diet I'm on, especially if they got the same guy to play me in the actual on-camera interview I did with Discovery.

3. The program was previewed for relatives of the 154 people who died when the Gol 737 crashed into the Amazon. They liked it. Their strong position is that the American pilots, who were indicted in Brazil last week, were chiefly responsible for the crash, which we know is not true.

Anyway, here's the G1 walk-up to the Discovery Brazil channel piece.

Its producer, Alan Tomlinson, told me he had extraordinary cooperation from Brazilian authorities, especially the military authorities who run air traffic control. Discovery Brazil was allowed to film and do re-creations at Brazilian air traffic control centers, and had other extraordinary access. It seemed to me when I met him two months ago that Tomlinson, a respected documentary producer, had really done his homework. Now that he's turned it in, we'll see.

Translation from our Sao Paulo bureau chief Richard Pedicini:

Discovery launches film with behind the scenes of Gol accident

Documentary heard authorities, survivors and controllers' representatives.
Families were moved by film presented this morning.
Glauco Araújo of G1, in São Paulo

The Discovery Channel launched this Tuesday the 29th the documentary "The tragedy of Flight 1907", which shows the behind-the-scenes of the accident and the sequence of facts that caused the crash of the Gol Boeing, on September 29, 2006 in the north of Mato Grosso. The 154 people who were aboard the Gol Boeing died.

The Boeing crashed after colliding with a Legacy jet. The jet managed to land at Cachimbo Air Base, in the south of Pará.

The documentary will be shown on television in close to thirty countries on June 10.

The film shows the testimony of Brazilian authorities who participated in the accident investigation. Interviews were also done with some of the relatives of the 154 fatal victims, with passengers in the Legacy, who survived the accident, and with representatives of the air traffic controllers.

The documentary shows a simulation of the moment of collision between the Boeing and the Legacy jet and presents dramatizations, based on official transcripts, of the attitudes of the Legacy pilots, the North Americans Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, of the air traffic controllers and of the jet's passengers.

The two North American pilots were not heard in the documentary.

[Photo, two ghostlike planes colliding.]

[Photo Credit:] Release
[Photo Caption:] Simulation shows moment of collision between Gol Boeing and Legacy jet (Publicity Photo)

According to Michella Giorelli, the documentary's production director, the film took six months to finish. "There were three months of research and another three for post-production. We filmed for three weeks in Brazil and for another week in the United States, in New York and Los Angeles, were the animations and part of the dramatizations were done."

Michella said that 35 hours of film was registered, of which 20 are interviews. "The media was a strong inspiration for the creation of the documentary." The film was produced by Tomlinson de Onis Productions.


The documentary on the Gol accident is part of a series of productions on aviation accidents around the world. One of them, "Aviation Disaster: how to get out alive", shows that in 60% of aviation accidents there are survivors. In the production "The Tenerife Disaster", Discovery will portray another airplane accident that happened in the Los Rodeos Airport, in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.


Friends and families of the victims of the Gol accident were moved on watching the documentary "The tragedy of Flight 1907", this Tuesday morning. The film was previewed for representatives of the victims' relatives at the Hotel Intercontinental, in São Paulo.

"It was very moving. The story of the documentary is very exact [pontual] over what occurred", said Jorge André Cavalcante, president of the Association of Relatives of Victims of the Gol Accident. He saw the film in the company of Neusa Filipeto Machado, who is also a member of the association.


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