'Master,' 'Ferien' and 'Therapy' underscore new Brazil's ambitions

Katia Machado’s Rio-based Passaro Films is lining up its production slate, playing off heightened finance opportunities in Brazil.

Budgeted at a combined $12 million, Passaro’s three-pic lineup features epic thriller “The Master of the Left Side,” “Meine Ferien,” a period river movie, and “Therapy,” Marcos Bernstein’s follow-up to “My Sweet Orange Tree,” which competed at the Rio de Janeiro Festival last Saturday.

“Master” adapts Alberto Mussa’s novel that won Brazil’s 2011 National Library Award.

Set in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1900s, documentary director Belisario Franca’s fiction debut uses a serial killer plot to explore erotic mythology.

Scribe Jose Carvalho, whose credits include Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas’ “Midnight,” has finished a first-draft screenplay. Budgeted at $4.7 million, higher-end for Brazil, “Master” rolls second half 2014.

“Sweet Orange Tree” d.p. Gustavo Habda is attached to helm “Ferien,” about a boy who flees Germany for Brazil after WWII and grows up to be a priest who travels by river. “Ferien” will be pitched at October’s Sao Paulo Festival FilmCup Brazil-Germany co-production meeting. “It’s an original, strong project presenting Brazil in a way never seen before,” Machado said.

“Therapy” features a lawyer who seeks revenge after his son takes a stray bullet in a highway shootout. Action thriller targets young males, per Machado.

Screenplay was written by Bernstein. It will shoot in Rio and Brazil’s Mafia-ridden tri-border with Paraguay and Argentina.

Machado’s three-pic slate comes as Brazil’s Sectoral Fund will rise next year to around $400 million and new regulations oblige local TV operators to produce Brazilian content.

“It’s important for me to make bigger films now, which portray the formation of Brazilian society,” Machado said. “But the key remains wonderful scripts and artistic elements,” she added.

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