The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach

The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach


This sunny holiday of a documentary sends Katie Derham to Rio de Janeiro on the trail of the second most recorded pop song ever (after the Beatles’ Yesterday). With the Sugarloaf Mountain as her constant companion, she reveals the origins of bossa nova and the optimism that gave rise to it (Brazil’s World Cup win in 1954, President Kubitschek paving the way to a more democratic country), plus the identity of the eponymous Girl herself.

Derham visits the rustic retreat of the song’s composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and explores the American appropriation of bossa nova or “new trend” by Frank Sinatra and others. Even the Beatles adopted it on No Reply.

Composed in 1962, The Girl from Ipanema eventually made listeners the world over go “ah” when its Portuguese lyrics were translated into English by Norman Gimbel – later famous for the words of Killing Me Softly with His Song and Happy Days.

It’s a lilting, dreamy film, if a little lacking in drama, with Jobim’s son Daniel capturing the cool of the genre to perfection when he jams with musicians on Insensatez.


Katie Derham examines the story behind Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes's song The Girl from Ipanema, which was written in 1962 and was later translated into English by American lyricist Norman Gimbel. Katie meets some of the key figures in Brazil's bossa nova scene and traces the roots of the genre to bohemian Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, and examines its influence on modern jazz.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Katie Derham
Director Andy Dunn
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer Andy Dunn