Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff Announces $540 Million Government Package for Film and TV

Funds to be plowed into production, distribution and theater digitization

Three months ahead of general elections on Oct. 5, Brazilian president Dilma Roussef has announced a huge 2014 1.2 billion reales ($540 million) government-funding package for Brazil’s film and TV sectors, under the initiative Brasil de Todas as Telas.

Part of that package – $186 million – was unveiled last December. New, however, is a further $216 million, which will be plowed into production, distribution and programming of film and TV content, plus $140 million more for the digitization of theaters.

Addressing some of the good and great of the Brazilian film industry – producers Luiz Carlos Barreto and Lucy Barreto, director Caca Diegues, all active since Brazil’s Cinema Novo – Roussef’s announcement is a calculated play for Brazil’s creative classes, not all of whom may back her re-election.

That is not to say, however, that the massive cash injection, when it comes about, will not have a radical effect on Brazil’s film and TV sectors as has already been the case with Brazil’s Law 12.485, approved March 2012, that has revolutionized the indie TV production sector, obliging its pay TV operators to air 3.5 hours of domestic content weekly.

The funding aims at turning the country into one of the five biggest film and TV powers in the world, said Culture Minister Marta Suplicy. She promised to use the funding to strengthen the implementation of Law 12.485.

The funding comes as some movie producers are finding it ever harder to use tax-break finance for productions.

“Any increase in government funding plus an improvement in TV distribution and the number of new digital cinemas will be very welcome to Brazil’s film and TV sectors as it is getting harder to get the private sector to fund film and TV programs via tax money,” said producer Christopher Pickard (“Rio 50 Degrees”).

The hike in funding comes after a year when Brazil films scored one of its highest recent market shares of 18.6% driving the domestic market to its best-ever total box office – counting Hollywood, other foreign and local fare – of $708 million.

Among recent best Brazilian productions, the part-Las Vegas shot comedy “Till Luck Do Us Part 2,” with Jerry Lewis in a cameo, scored $19.2 million in at home.

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