EUFCN Location Award 2023 Finalist: Hotel Parque do Rio

Bad Living
  by João Canijo was shot entirely in the Hotel Parque do Rio, in the northern coast of Portugal. The hotel by the sea was the perfect setting for the story of a family of five women living “imprisoned” in their intricate relationships.

The Hotel Parque do Rio is among the finalists of the EUFCN Location Award 2023, the annual prize for European filming locations organized by the European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN). The location was submitted by the Portugal Film Commission.

Built in the late sixties, the Hotel Parque do Rio with its modernist architecture – cement, wood, very large windows, layered indoors and outdoors – is a true character of Bad Living  (Mal viver)feature film drama produced by Pedro Borges (Midas Filmes) and directed by João Canijo.

“The building offers so many plastic and visual possibilities,” says director João Canijo. “Many of the scenes were invented just to take advantage of the perspectives the location offered. The hotel is the character that sticks together the family.”

Anabela Moreira, Rita Blanco and Madalena Almeida star as three generations of women perpetually at odds with one another, who try to survive their relationships in the declining hotel, elegantly captured on screen by cinematographer Leonor Teles. “The hotel itself becomes alive like a beautiful monster that strangles the women’s lives, preventing their freedom of choice and forcing them to postpone their dreams,” explains Canijo.

Bad Living filmed in the Hotel Parque do Rio

Bad Living was shot in early months of 2021, during a covid lockdown. Besides being the sole location of the film, the hotel turned out to be also the home and workplace for the cast and crew for more than 12 weeks.

“The pandemic was the main challenge, as we shot during the second confinement in Portugal,” says Pedro Borges, executive producer at Midas Filmes. “The fact that everyone lived on set, in the hotel, for almost three months also added to the challenge. In terms of production, everything went quite smoothly.”

“The confinement helped a lot the cast and crew to feel the claustrophobic mood required by the film, and at the same time to focus on the work.” adds Canijo. “The shooting took place in February and March, when the water temperature was freezing. It took a lot of courage and self-sacrifice to dive and swim in the very cold water, but none of the actresses complained.”

Bad Living filmed in the Hotel Parque do Rio

The director’s family used to spend the summer holidays in this very same hotel by Ofir Beach. The building, with its curved swimming pool, and its surroundings revealed to be more or less the same since then, sixty years later. “The Hotel Parque do Rio is a childhood memory of happier and unconcerned times, a shocking contrast with the gray lives of the main characters of Bad Living,” recalls Canijo.

Bad Living, recipient of this year’s Silver Bear – Prize of the Jury at the Berlinale, was selected as Portugal’s submission for Best International Film at the Oscars.

Hotel Parque do Rio

The European Film Commissions Network is a non-profit association that supports and promotes the European film industry and culture. It currently represents 99 European film commissions and film institutions from 31 different countries.