Salles' co-director strikes out on her own

On the Venice Lido to present Horizons player “Swirl,” Brazil’s Dezenove Son e Imagens is readying “Vazante” (Surge), the first solo directorial outing from Brazilian Daniela Thomas, who co-directed “Linha de passe” and “Foreign Land” with Walter Salles.

“Surge” is budgeted at 13 million reals ($8 million), said Dezenove’s Sara Silveira, a figure almost unheard of outside of the films of Salles and Fernando Mereilles.

It’s the flagship of a new generation of Brazilian films that boast large commercial and international ambitions, playing off the country’s newfound film financing muscle and ebullient home market.

It also establishes Dezenove as one of Brazil’s most internationally aggressive production houses and a Brazilian pacemaker.

Brazil has carved out festival niches with sometimes exquisite but usually financially modest artpics, such as Helvecio Marins Jr. and Clarissa Campolina’s “Swirl,” a portrait of fast-disappearing village life on the Minas Gerais highlands.

Written by Thomas, “Surge” is set in the early 19th century at a colonial property. It charts the dynamics between its bullying owner, his wife, whom he marries when she’s 12, and the property’s slaves.”Surge,” Thomas said, is an attempt to get away from “the myths of exotic, sensual, tropical carnivals” and, using non-pro actors from Brazil’s Quilombo settlements and from Africa, it echoes the ancestral diaspora that has formed Brazil’s identity.

Cast includes Sandra Corveloni, a Cannes Palme d’Or winner for “Linha,” and Fernanda Montenegro (“Central Station”).

Produced by Silveira and Carlos Reichenbach’s Dezenove and Beto Amaral’s Nos Outros Prods., “Surge” will be an international co-production. She will count on the aid of Salles to access foreign finance, she said.

Production is skedded for May to June 2012.

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