‘Jean’ premieres in field in Brazil

2,000 gather for first-time screening

RIO DE JANEIRO — It wasn’t the usual, run-of-the-mill premiere.

Most of the 2,000-odd people gathered on a soccer field in the small Brazilian town of Gonzaga on June 19 to see exec producer Stephen Frears’ “Jean Charles” had never been to a pic screening before.

The rural town in Minas Gerais state, which has about 5,000 residents but no theater, is the home of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was shot dead on July 22, 2005, by British police at London’s Stockwell subway station. Police had mistaken him for a suicide bomber.

The crowd, including De Menezes’ parents and brother, along with the cast, watched helmer Henrique Goldman’s pic on a traveling outdoor screen.

De Menezes is played by local film and TV star Selton Mello.

“Selton only survived the hysterical fans, thanks to the security guards,” said Goldman. “I said a few words, and they played Brazil’s national anthem before the screening. The crowd cried and laughed. It was one of the most emotional days of my life.”

Imagem Filmes, one of the country’s top indie distribs, opened “Jean Charles” on Friday with 153 prints, a fairly large release by local standards.

“Jean Charles” has gained significant media coverage in Brazil, which producers believe will help its commercial prospects. Goldman expects the pic to have a strong play in the U.K.

“As sad as it is, Jean Charles became a brand name in the U.K. We believe the film appeals to all audiences as it deals with the universal issue of immigration,” Goldman said.

He is hoping the bio will have its international preem at a fest: Toronto is considering the pic’s submission.

“Jean Charles” is a $4 million co-production from Brazil’s Ja Filmes and Goldman’s U.K.-based Mango Films.

The pic’s screenplay, written by Goldman and Marcelo Starobinas, focuses on the last months of electrician De Menezes’ life in London.

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