Brazil Locals Embrace Sci-Fi and Scary Films

The surge in Latin America’s genre scene has rubbed off on Brazil.

Traditionally driven by local comedies and crossover movies from big auteurs such as Walter Salles or Fernando Meirelles, Brazilian production is plunging into local sci-fi, horror pics and thrillers and garnering strong international sales and multiple festival plaudits.

One example: Fernando Coimbra’s drama-thriller “A Wolf at the Door,” the first Brazilian pick-up by sales company Mundial — the joint-venture of IM Global and Mexico’s Canana — which has widely sold abroad, including the U.S. (Outsider Pictures), and snagged kudos at Miami, Havana, Rio and San Sebastian festivals.

Cult helmer Rodrigo Aragao’s zombie pic “Black Sea” won honors at December’s Ventana Sur. Also at that fest, filmmakers Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, directors of Cannes’ 2011 Un Certain Regard entry “Hard Labor,” unveiled buzz project “Good Manners,” dubbed a Brazilian “Rosemary’s Baby”.

At Cannes, Dezenove will present “All the Dead Ones,” a period fantasy film project from Dutra and Caetano Gotardo.

As part of export program Films From Rio, three Brazilian genre pics make their Cannes market premiere: EH Filmes’ thriller “The Moving Forest,” by Vinicius Coimbra; David Meyer’s “Ponzi,” a Radiante Filmes crime thriller about psychotic delusion; Henrique Goldman’s TV Zero-produced “Name of Death,” on an Amazonian hitman.

Brazil’s genre block forms part of “a more general phenomenon of film directors who are starting up or on their second film, moving into thrillers,” per FiGa Films’ Brazilian-born co-founder Sandro Fiorin. FiGa has just launched label FiGa/Br for international sales. First slate includes Daniel Aragao’s psycho-thriller “I Swear I’ll Leave This Town” and Gregorio Graziosi’s black-and-white thriller “Obra.”

“Brazil may be now developing its own brand of genre cinema, adapting formulas to its unique reality,” says Betina Goldman at London-based One Eyed Films, the international seller of the seminal “Coffin Joe Cult Collection,” by Brazilian horror master Jose Mojica Marins.

“If we produce four genre movies this year, for sure it’s a signal we are already growing,” says Andrea Giusti at RT Features, producers of Marco Dutra’s critically praised psychological thriller “When I Was Alive.”

But Brazilian genre movies’ main challenge is to generate bigger returns at the local B.O. There’s room for growth: per a recent RioFilme survey, 1% of local film productions were horror pics but these repped the preferred film type of 8% of Rio film audiences. As a positive sign, RT Features’ action thriller “Alemao,” about the 2010 Rio favela siege, has broken out to a notable $4.9 million this year.

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