Brazilian org aims to hike international rights deals

By JOHN HOPEWELL

MADRID — RioFilme, the burgeoning Brazilian film investment agency, is upping its ante, financing some of Brazil’s most buzzed-about movies.

Rio de Janeiro-based RioFilme will co-produce and co-distribute Vicente Ferraz’s “The Mountain,” about Brazil’s bitterest World War II campaign, the Battle of Monte Castello, RioFilme CEO Sergio Sa Leitao announced at this week’s Ventana Sur mart.

Working with Brazil’s Europa Filmes, RioFilme has secured world rights outside Italy and Portugal to “Mountain,” budgeted at Euros 3.15 million ($4.15 million).

Targeting another higher-bracket Brazilian movie, RioFilme has made an equity investment in the $5 million “Artificial Paradises,” from Marcos Prado, a partner of Jose Padilha in Zazen Producoes, producer of blockbuster “Elite Squad 2.”

Prado’s debut feature turns on the drugs scene among Brazil’s rich youth.

RioFilme co-produced with Mixer the $5 million “Dirty Hearts,” Vicente Amorim’s 1945-set drama about Japanese communities in Brazil. RioFilme provided equity and a bridging loan equivalent to 15% of the budget.

Shot in Japanese and Portuguese, the potential fest fare is now finishing post-production.

It also invested in Ventana Sur screeners “From Beginning to End,” “The Best Things in the World” and romcom “Malu de bicicleta,” from Tambellini Films.

“We haven’t had too many romantic comedies before,” said Sa Leitao.

Nor World War II movies. But Brazil’s hiked film investment capacities is broadening genre options, encouraging bigger-canvas subjects.

In all, RioFilme has an 18 movie investment slate for 2011-12. It sunk $10 million into films over 2010, a record for RioFilme over its 18 years of existence, Sa Leitao said.

“We’re trying to acquire more international rights on films we co-produce, have a more proactive presence, and finding sales agents which fit best with films,” said Sa Leitao, who negotiated sales rights with Paris’ Elle Driver on “5 x Favela,” before its Cannes selection.

RioFilme will turn an annual profit for the first time this year, according to Sa Leitao.

“The idea is to increase our investment capacity, making more investments,” Sa Leitao said.

Compensating for Brazil’s lack of tax breaks for international shoots by direct investment, RioFilme put up $500,000 for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part 1)” via its Brazilian services companies, Total Ent. and Zohar Cinema. Pic’s total Brazil spend was $3.5 million; final cut of the movie will involve two postcard shots of Rio, said Sa Leitao.

“Twilight” shot a week in Rio, at the same time as “Fast Five,” from the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

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