Walter Salles’ VideoFilmes has picked up “The Mystery of Samba” for distribution in Brazil.
Directed by Carolina Jabor and Lula Buarque de Hollanda, both associates of producer Conspiracao, “Mystery” world preemed in Cannes’ Cinema de la Plage program strand on Sunday night, making it the last film to play at the 61st Cannes Film Festival.
Better-known as one of Brazil’s top production houses, which co-produced Salles’ Cannes Competition player “Linha de passe,” VideoFilmes is also a prestige boutique distributor in Brazil.
It has also shown a large commitment to films exploring the history and legacy of Latin American music, having co-produced Berlin Panorama player “Cafe de los maestros,” teaming with Argentinean producer Lita Stantic and L.A.-based Gustavo Santaolla.
“Mystery” will bow in Brazil late August, coinciding with samba concerts in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Produced by Natura, Conspiracao Filmes and Phonomotor, “Mystery” portrays the venerable members of Rio de Janeiro’s Velha Guarda da Portela samba school, now in their seventies or eighties, singing or talking often about the samba greats they knew as kids.
“Many of their songs have never been recorded. The musicians lead simple lives but have a very strong sense of memory,” said Marisa Monte, who conducts many of the interviews in the film.
“Mystery” features around 50 unrecorded songs, Monte’s interviews with Samba greats, and the Portela Rio Carnaval parades.
“Mystery’s” strong sense of oral tradition is heightened by the fact that Monte is one of Brazil’s biggest singer-songwriter stars.
For Conspiracao, a leading Brazilian film and TV production house, “Mystery” culminates years of association with Monte and indeed Salles, said Conspiracao partner Leonardo Monteiro de Barros.
Lula Buarque produced a Brazilian TV special on Monte, directed by Salles, in the late 1980s, soon after Monte’s breakthrough as a very young singer.