Brazil prez ups quota for local product to 35 days

RIO DE JANEIRO — Latino screen quotas for domestic films all but died out in the early 1990s, but already they’re creeping back.

With the Brazilian film industry experiencing a renaissance, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has decreed that his country’s theaters reserve a minimum of 35 days for local product during 1997. Multiplexes need to set aside a lesser number of days for each additional screen.

A quota was already on the books, stipulating 28 days per year, but this has been ignored for years due to the very low level of Brazilian film activity that persisted through 1994. Production is now reaching 30 to 40 films per year.

The quota increase, the latest in a series of governmental measures aimed at boosting the film industry, was predictably praised by Brazilian producers and criticized by U.S. distribs and local exhibs.

“We’re against any kind of quota. Movies of good quality will always have room,” said Arturo Netto, assistant to the board of leading exhib Grupo Severiano Ribeiro.

“The quota increase is a response to a rise in the number of films produced in Brazil over the past years,” said Jose Carlos Avellar, head of Riofilme, Brazil’s most important film subsidy body.

The big question now is whether the government will actually enforce the quota by punishing theaters not abiding by it, as it used to do in the 1970s and 1980s when film quotas reached a peak of 140 days.

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