Lirio Ferreira’s “Blue Blood” Tops Rio Festival

'Absence' and 'Obra' also among most laurelled contenders at Premiere Brasil.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Lirio Ferreira’s “Blue Blood,” the story of a circus performer’s attempted reconciliation with his family past, topped the 2014 Rio de Janeiro Intl. Film Festival, winning three Redentor Prizes: Best film, director and supporting actor (Romulo Braga).

Top plaudits in the Rio Fest’s centerpiece Premiere Brasil panoarama rep vindication for Ferreira, who has made just three fiction features in 17 years, his previous movie, “Dry Movie,” dating from 2005.
Set up at Drama Filmes, and produced by producer-director-screenwriter Renato Ciasca, a longtime associate of Beto Brant, with whom he co-directed “I’d Receive the Worst News From Your Beautiful Lips.”

Chico Teixeira’s “Absence,” a big city coming of age story produced by BossaNovaFilms, won a special jury prize.

A vast 41-feature section, including docus and more avant-garde plays, Premiere Brasil works as an effective new talent platform. By their prize count, a clutch of new directors and thesps shone at 2014’s Rio Fest, many buzzed-up frontrunners for prizes before Wednesday’s jury verdict.

Sold by FiGa/Br, Gregorio Graziosi’s studiously framed b/w “Obra,” the only Premiere Brasil title playing at Toronto, won best cinematography for d.p. Andre Brandao, and the best Latin American Film award from the FIPRESCI Intl. Federation of Film Critics, recognition for a film which combines pointed aesthetic design with large ideas, such a Brazil’s seeming indifference to both its past and challenged future.

Rio Fest’s fiction feature Audience Award went to another buzzed-up debut, though a known-title coming into Rio: Fellipe Barbosa’s Rio rich kid coming of ager “Casa Grande,” which world premiered at Rotterdam and is now notching up initial international sales, via New York’s Visit Films.

Of thesps, Matheus Fagundes, the young star of “Absence” took best actor and Bianca Joy Porte best actress for her demanding turn in Daniel Aragao’s “I Swear I’ll Leave This Town,” playing an ex-junky trapped in a suffocating relationship with her Recife politico father, whose already driven her mother to suicide.

Fernanda Rocha took best supporting actress for “The Last Drive-In,” the feature-debut of multi-laurelled short-film director Ibere Carvalho.

Though it divided critics, Theresa Jessouroun’s “Point Blank,” an unambiguous record of Rio police corruption and violence, scooped best film and director in the best documentary category.
Best docu Audience Award, b contrast, went to “Favela Gay,” a chronicle of the LGBT community in the slums of Rio.

Near all prized titles tackled what seems to be one central challenge for arthouse Brazilian filmmakers today: How to frame their makers’ social concerns in movies which increasingly need to entertain in order to reach audiences at home and abroad.

“The films awarded were chosen because they all have a strong personality and flirt between strong social commentary and poetic fables about the world we live in,” said jury president Karim Ainouz (“Madame Sata,” “Praia do futuro”).

Liked by those who caught it at Berlin, Davi Pretto’s fiction/docu straddling “Castanha,” a portrait of a gay actor/drag queen cabaret host and survivor from the ‘80s aids-devastated generation, topped Premiere Brasil’s New Trends section. That marks a victory for Port Alegre’s budding movie scene at a time when some of the most arresting movies, especially in more high-art arthouse, are being made outside Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Huge in the number of films it screens – 300 titles – cinema spread – 25 locations – and attendance – over 300,000 at a first count, the Rio Fest also saw a lifetime achievement award for Othon Bastos,” (“Central Station,” “Heleno”). Mexican director-writer Guillermo Arriaga, (“The Burning Plain,””Babel”), in Rio for the Latin American premiere of “Words With Gods,” was presented with the FIPRESCI Latin American Personality of the Year award.

The Rio de Janeiro Intl. Fim Festival ran Sept. 24 to Oct. 8, opening with Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s “The Salt of the Earth” and closing with Stephen Daldry’s “Trash.”
Split for the first tme into a RioMarket TV and RioMarket Film, the RioMarket saw 2,500 attendees. It hosted 41 seminars and 19 workshops/masterclasses, a sign of the premium now being put on practical training in Brazil.

WINNERS OF THE 16TH RIO DE JANEIRO FILM FESTIVAL:

PREMIERE BRASIL

BEST FICTION FEATURE
“Blue Blood” (Lirio Ferreira, Brazil)

BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
“Point Blank” (Theresa Jessouroun, Brazil)

BEST SHORT
“Boatman” (Jose Menezes and Lucas Justiniano, Brazil)

BEST DIRECTOR, FICTION
Lirio Ferreira (“Blue Blood,” Brazil)

BEST DIRECTOR, DOCUMENTARY
Theresa Jessouroun “Point Blank,” Brazil)

BEST ACTRESS
Bianca Joy Porte (“I Swear I’ll Leave This Town,” Brazil)

BEST ACTOR
Matheus Fagundes (“Absence,” Brazil, Chile, France)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Fernanda Rocha (“The Last Drive-in Theater,” Brazil)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Romulo Braga (“Blue Blood,” Brazil)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Andre Brandao (“Obra,” Brazil)

BEST EDITING
Luisa Marques (“I Touched All Your Stuff,” Brazil)

BEST SCREENPLAY
Murilo Salles (“Means to an End,” Brazil)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Absence,” (Chico Teixeira, Brazil, Chile, France)

SPECIAL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Othon Bastos

NEW TRENDS
BEST FEATURE FILM
“Castanha,” (Davi Pretto, Brazil)

BEST SHORT
“The Good Behaviour,” (Eva Randolph, Brazil)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“The White Goddess,” (Alfeu França, Brazil)

FELIX AWARDS

BEST FEATURE FILM
“Xenia” (Panos H. Koutras, Greece, France, Belgium)

BEST FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY
“Tie and Red Nail” (Miriam Chnaiderman)

JURY SPECIAL AWARD
“52 Tuesdays,” (Sophie Hyde, Australia)

FIPRESCI AWARD
“Obra,” (Gregorio Graziosi, Brazil)

GENERATIONS AWARD
“Finn!” ( Frans Weisz, Netherlands)

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