Everything from co-prods to distrib'n get fund help

RIO DE JANEIRO — The Brazilian film biz continues to make moves that open more screen doors for the rest of the world:

  • The ambitious new Rio Film Commission recently tapped former MPA Latin America VP Steve Solot as CEO, while the city government has launched an investment program for foreign pics that promote the city’s image abroad.

  • There’s a new fund for Brazilian pic distribution internationally and a federal government incentive for international co-productions is gaining traction.

  • The creation of Celluloid Dreams Brazil is yet another recent example of the entertainment industry reaching out globally.

The municipal and state governments of Rio announced a plan Sept. 23 to make the city the main production hub in Latin America. Backed by an 18 million reais ($10 million) fund, the plan includes the unification of the nearly inactive state and city commissions into Rio Film Commission

“We will do our homework first, by creating a comprehensive website and one-stop shopping for foreign producers here,” Solot says. “Then we will take Rio’s Gov. Sergio Cabral and/or Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes on a trade mission to Los Angeles, which will likely occur in the first quarter of next year.”

He adds that one of his jobs is to attract to Rio at least one major international feature production per year that can have a positive impact on the city’s image abroad. The local governments have an annual budget of $1.7 million to invest in such projects.

The first pic to take advantage of this coin is $25 million “Rio, eu te amo” (Rio, I Love You), the next pic of French producer Emmanuel Benbihy’s Ever So Close’s Cities of Love franchise (“Paris, je t’aime” and “New York, I Love You”). Lensing in several Rio neighborhoods is scheduled to begin in July. Producers are negotiating the participation of Brazilian helmers Jose Padilha and Fernando Meirelles.

On the national level, the main stimulus for the internationalization of the local pic production sector is the federal government-sponsored program Cinema do Brasil, which subsidizes the trips of Brazilian producers to the main markets and promotes local pics abroad. Its president, Andre Sturm, has recently announced an incentive of $15,000 per company (up to 10 companies for a total of $150,000) if they distribute Brazilian pics in overseas territories; grants must be used to cover distribution and P&A costs.

Additionally, the president of Brazil’s National Cinema Agency (Ancine), Manoel Rangel, says the government is considering setting up a fund for international co-productions under the Sector Fund incentive that would launch in 2010.

The list of such co-productions is growing. There are currently 31 international co-productions in Brazil in various stages of activity, with 12 in post, two lensing, five in pre-production and 12 in development, according to Ancine. Those are official co-productions made with countries that have production agreements with Brazil. The U.S. isn’t one of those countries.

Barcelona-based Filmax is coming to Rio to film “Non Stop to Brazil,” helmed by Brad Anderson. Local shingle Total Filmes is the likely local co-producer of the pic, which is to be lensed in Rio.

Making pics for international distribution is the aim of the recently created shingle Celluloid Dreams Brasil, a partner of the French sales agent. The new company’s shareholders include Patrick Siaretta, owner of local post-production lab Teleimage and co-owner of local production company Moonshot; and helmer Heitor Dhalia (“Adrift”). The French group will presell the Brazilian company’s pics abroad.

Dhalia will direct the new company’s first pic, “A Girl and a Gun,” a $4.5 million road movie to be lensed in Argentina in March. Siaretta says the partners are trying to put together a high-profile U.S. cast and intend the pic to be made in English. Alternatively, it could be a Spanish-language pic with a Spanish-speaking cast.

Celluloid Dreams Brasil is working on three other projects: a pic to be lensed in Brazil’s isolated paradise island of Fernando de Noronha and likely directed by Vera Egito; epic “Serra Pelada,” a co-production with Brazil’s Gullane Filmes that Dhalia would lense in late 2010 or early 2011; and helmer Esmir Filho’s “A baleia” that could be lensed in the second half of 2010.

“We have always had problems selling our Brazilian films abroad, because they were originally made for the Brazilian market, and it is difficult to adapt them to foreign audiences. Celluloid Dreams Brasil will make films fit for the world market,” Siaretta says.

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