Machado's comedy kicks off with alliance

StudioCanal has established a development-production and distribution pact with Walter Salles’ Rio de Janeiro-based VideoFilmes, one of Brazil’s top production houses.

The alliance — essentially a first-look deal — kicks off with Sergio Machado’s lyrical comedy “The Two Deaths of Wateryell Quincas,” which StudioCanal co-financed. StudioCanal will handle worldwide sales.

VideoFilmes is also developing the children’s toon feature “Noah’s Ark According to Vinicius de Moraes.” Machado is writing the screenplay to present to StudioCanal for potential joint development.

“Quincas” is based on a celebrated 1959 novel by Jorge Amado. It chronicles a wake in which the friends of bourgeois-turned-bohemian Quincas cart his corpse around his favorite haunts in Brazil’s Bahia.

The film “plays like a Fellini or Kusturica movie,” said Olivier Courson, StudioCanal chairman-CEO, who established the VideoFilmes relationship with Salles.

“This is the kind of direct relation with key talent worldwide that I want to develop,” Courson said.

StudioCanal will present “Quincas,” now in post-production, to buyers at Berlin.

Co-run by Mauricio Andrade Ramos, VideoFilmes not only produces Salles’ movies, but also fest-featured first pics including Machado’s “Lower City,” which unspooled at Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2005.

StudioCanal’s partnership, said Salles, “allows us to identify talented filmmakers, offering these projects to StudioCanal, and for me on a personal basis to be close to one of the most vibrant and creative production companies in the world today.”

With the deal, StudioCanal is doing a version of what U.S. speciality labels have done in the past: Focus Features, for example, inked a production-distribution deal with O2 Filmes, the shingle of Brazillian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles.

According to Harold Van Lier, StudioCanal exec VP of international sales, with VideoFilmes StudioCanal is applying a business model it hopes to replicate with other foreign producers and directors, putting up a minimum guarantee against its direct distrib operations in Germany, the U.K. and France and taking a cut on international sales.

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