Brazil festival celebrates booming biz

L.A. event to highlight surge in local production

The third Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival bows Tuesday at a time when Brazilian cinema has much to celebrate. The market share of Brazilian pics at home grew a solid 50% in 2008 and is promising to hold steady this year, according to Leonardo de Barros, of Conspiracao Filmes, while more shingles are forging international alliances.

Conspiracao partnered with Spain’s Antena 3, Ikiru Films and El Toro Films to produce “Lope,” Andrucha Waddington’s biopic of Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Run by Waddington and de Barros, Conspiracao is raising incentive coin to co-produce projects in Germany, Spain, Portugal and the U.S.

Key to this global expansion is a $30 million Sector Fund, which allows international filmmakers to tap local incentives by partnering with local companies for production, distribution and P&A.

“I welcome (the fund) because it empowers national independent distributors to bid for high-profile local projects, something that was previously reserved for the Hollywood majors with their Article 3 tax-break coin,” said de Barros referring to the tax ruling that allows companies to qualify for a 30% tax rebate. “Now there is much more competition for commercial projects, and this is good for the producers.”

“We are very happy to see how Brazil is creating new incentives to promote the production of films; it gives other countries a great example of what they could do,” said Eduardo Costantini of Buenos Aires-based Costa Films, which has partnered with the Otero Group and other companies in Brazil.

The fest, which runs for six days, pays tribute to 15 years of Brazil’s New Cinema as exemplified by “City of God,” which will have a special screening at the fest . Pic’s helmer Fernando Meirelles is jury prexy.

Fest has partnered with the Latin American Training Center and Sao Paulo-based law firm Cesnik, Quintino & Salinas to offer a two-day seminar on Brazil’s audiovisual financing and tax incentives, kicking off Friday.

Based at the West L.A. Landmark Theater, the fest’s opener is the U.S. premiere of Heitor Dhalia’s coming-of-age tale “A Deriva” (Adrift), which Meirelles executive produced. It wraps with Jose Alvarenga’s “Diva,” which was picked up by L.A.-based Maya Entertainment for a July release.

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