WALTER SALLES and FABIANO GULLANE

Salles’ VideoFilmes, Gullane, NIP ally for the animated feature project, which is being moved at Annecy (EXCLUSIVE)

ANNECY — 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, Gullane, which also produced Fernando Coimbra’s San Sebastian, Rio, Miami and Guadalajara-winner, “A Wolf at the Door,” and Daniel Greco’s Nucleo Independente de Producao (NIP). A production supervisor and story editor for “Rio 2096,” Greco is at France’s Annecy Animation Festival to talk to potential international co-producers and to search for talent.
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.

Said Salles: “’Noah’s Ark’ holds a very dear place in the memory of Brazilian children. Several generations of Brazilians have been informed by the unique intelligence and poetry of Vinicius de Moraes’ songs for his ‘Noah’s Ark.’ The fact that each song is so original is probably what allowed Moraes’ ‘Noah’s Ark’ to defy time, and be so dear to us.”

He added: “I have two children, who are now seven and five. They are enamoured by the same songs that I was mad about when I was their age. Fabiano Gullane has children the same age as well. This is why we are doing the film.

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 embark 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.

“We had to be faithful to Vinicius De Moraes’ unique wit, and to the political incorrectness that allows his work to be so original and modern. It also implied developing characters and creating an architecture that could be at the same time well-rhythmed and emotional,” Salles said.

“The screenplay is now ripe, and we’re presently working on finding the best possible way to translate it to the screen.”

“Noah’s Ark” aims to be “touching, good-tempered, and full of humor and action,” Gullane added – “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 adaptation, 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.

“The beauty of starting to do animation now in Brazil is that you can reinvent it with the help of the latest technology and talented young artists,” Salles said.

“Gullane Films has proved that it is possible, with ‘Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury’ being recognized in a festival as important as Annecy.”

“This year, three Brazilian animations have been selected by Annecy, which is great news for all of us. To master the technology is important, but we’re conscious that what should remain at the heart of the story is what is inherently human. This is what moved us in the first place.”

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