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CANNES: Walter Salles’ VideoFilmes, Gullane Ally for ‘Noah’s Ark’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Adapting Vinicius de Moraes,’ toon pic shaping up as one of Brazil’s flagship animated feature projects

CANNES — Brazil’s Walter Salles (“Central Station,” “The Motorcycle Diaries”) is teaming with Gullane, producer of Venice closer “Amazonia,” to produce “Noah’s Ark,” a flagship Brazilian animated feature.

Sergio Machado (“Lower City,” “The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell”) is attached to write and direct, adapting the evergreen children’s songs and lyrics of Vinicius de Moraes.

“Noah’s Ark” marks Salles’ first incursion in animation. Sao Paulo-based, Gullane, however, produced Luiz Bolognesi’s “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury,” which last year won the Annecy Animation Festival’s top Cristal Award, animation’s biggest international kudo.

“Noah’s Ark” is set up as a co-production between Salles Rio-based VideoFilmes and Gullane, which also produced Fernando Coimbra’s San Sebastian, Rio, Miami and Guadalajara-winner, “A Wolf at the Door.” In Cannes this year as its Cinemas du Monde patron, Salles is overseeing artistic development on “Noah’s Ark.”

“We take all decisions together but having Walter Salles supervising artistic matters clearly is a privilege,” said Gullane’s Fabiano Gullane (pictured), one of the pic’s producers.

A towering, eclectic figure in last-century Brazil, Moraes composed “The Girl From Ipanema,” co-wrote the first Bossa Nova songs, and was the playwright of “Orfeu de Conceicao,” which Marcel Camus turned into Academy Award and Palme d’Or winning movie “Black Orpheus.”

Two of Moraes’ compositions were included on the soundtrack of Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman.”

Machado is developing the story in collaboration with filmmaker Suzana de Moraes, the artist’s daughter.

Toon pic “Noah’s Ark” turns on two bohemian mice that witness God’s telling Noah to save one male and one female of each animal species. While Tito embarks on the Ark, Vivinho ends up on a clandestine small ark, along with animals that exist on the fringe of the animal kingdom. Destiny reunites them on Noah’s Ark where they battle a raging storm, lack of food and the maneuvers of a tyrannical lion with their capacity for invention, music and poetry.

“Noah’s Ark” marks the first big co-production between VideoFilmes and Gullane. Production development is fully financed by Rio de Janeiro investment fund RioFilme; Globo Filmes, the film arm of Brazil’s TV giant; Brazil’s Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA), which is Brazil’s biggest film-TV subsidy fund; and coin from VideoFilmes and Gullane, said Fabiano Gullane.

Script development is advanced, he added. The producers are testing animation aesthetics and concepts from different animators.

“Noah’s Ark” aims to be “touching, good-tempered, and full of humor and action,” Gullane said, “quality family entertainment for 6/7-year-old children upwards, distinguished by its aesthetics and production values, using contemporary elements and with dialogue that children nowadays can understand.”

The animated feature will include Moraes’ songs, performed by top Brazilian artists.

Moraes’ original “Noah’s Ark” has inspired numerous adaptations, including a Globo TV musical, “Vinicius Para Crianca – A Arca de Noe,” which won a 1981 International Emmy in the popular arts category, plus a NATPE Iris Award for best foreign program and an 1982 Ondas Award in Spain.

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