Bullish Brazilians court Europe

Gullane unveils Hector Babenco's 'Brazilian'

MADRID — In its latest push into Europe, Brazil’s Gullane Films is re-teaming with helmer Hector Babenco on “A Brasileira” (The Brazilian), a drama based on true events that took place in 1990s Spain.

Written by Chilean screenwriter-helmer Jorge Duran (“Forbidden to Forbid”), “Brazilian” is co-produced with Brazil’s Case Filmes.

Sony is negotiating Latin American rights, but the producers’ intend to structure “Brazilian,” which takes place in Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, as a Brazilian-Spanish co-production, producer Fabiano Gullane said Wednesday in Madrid, speaking at a Talent Brazil showcase.

Gullane and Babenco last worked together on Cannes 2003 competition hit “Carandiru,” a bracing Brazilian state penitentiary drama, which Sony Pictures Classics picked up for the U.S.

Gullane’s no stranger to Euro co-pros: It put up minority equity on Venice competition player “Birdwatchers,” produced by Italy’s Classic Films, RAI Cinema and Karta Films, which sales agent Celluloid Dreams recently sold to IFC for the U.S.

Running Nov. 11-13 in Madrid, and backed by Brazilian export board ApexBrasil, Talent Brazil, a showcase for Brazilian film, TV, music, literature and commercials, proved that Brazilians can still mix a caipirinha: singer Vanessa de Mata and her group played a funky samba set to a seething cocktail-sluiced crowd of industry execs Wednesday night.

It also suggests that, when chasing co-production in Europe, Brazilian producers will be bringing increasingly substantial coin to the table.

At the Talent Brazil presentation, Andre Sturm, prexy of Cinema do Brasil film promotion board, confirmed that a new incentive system, the so-called Sector Fund, is just a couple of weeks off governmental approval.

Fund has raised some $50 million during 2007 and 2008. Part of the fund’s coin will be earmarked for international co-productions, Sturm said.

Brazil’s indie TV production sector also looks likely to grow, announced Luiz Noronha, a partner at Conspiracao Filmes, one of Brazil’s top TV producers with Gullane and Mixer.

One immediate driver is a brand new Article 3-A tax incentive scheme.

Article 3-A, said Fernando Dias, Mixer topper and president of the ABPI-TV Brazil Independent TV Producers Assn., grants Brazilian broadcasters and pay TV operators exemptions on withholding taxes levied on purchases of foreign programming, if they invest these moneys in indie TV production.

The new tax scheme will kick in in the next few months.

In the medium-term, telcos in Brazil are expected to grow pay TV in order to build their triple-play sub bases.

Pay TV, which outsources much production to the indie sector, will grow subs from a current 5.4 million to 20 million-30 million over the next years, Noronha forecast.

Playing off growing domestic financing, Conspiracao is looking to move into international TV productions.

“We’re preparing two series. Rather like Argentina’s Cuatro Cabezas, we’ll be looking to develop projects with outside partners, using our home market as a first test-case for new formats,” Noronha declared.

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