Rezende's film is Brazil's foreign-language pick

RIO DE JANEIRO — Helmer Sergio Rezende’s “Salve geral” is Brazil’s nominee for consideration in the foreign-language film Oscar race.

Pic is set during a widespread wave of gang violence that shook Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, in May 2006, sparked by prisoners protesting their transfer to high-security jails.

Andrea Beltrao plays the mother of an inmate involved in the event.

“Salve geral” is the phrase used by the criminal organizations’ leaders to order the attacks.

The $4.5 million drama, produced by Toscana Audiovisual, marks a new phase in Rezende’s career. Most of the vet helmer’s previous features were dramas based on historical figures (“Zuzu Angel,” “Maua,” “Lamarca” and “The Man in the Black Cape”) or historical events (“The Battle of Canudos”).

“Salve geral” preemed in Sao Paulo state on one screen earlier this month to fulfill Oscar’s qualification criteria.

Distributor Sony/Downtown will open the pic in Brazil on Oct. 2, the day after the start of the trial of Marco Herbas Camacho, who allegedly ordered the attacks.

Sony/Downtown initially planned a release on 150-200 prints, which is a large opening in a country with 2,200 screens, but the Oscar announcement may encourage the distrib to increase the number of prints.

A commission appointed by Brazil’s Ministry of Culture selected “Salve geral” from 10 pics vying for the nomination.

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