Brazil Preps for Mass SXSW Attendance

Fest increasingly valued for not only film strand but its digital domain and creative economy breadth

MADRID – Los Bragas, Big Bonsai, Conspiraçao Filmes and O2 Play figure among a significant 59-company Brazilian presence at  2015 South by Southwest, which kicked off today in Austin, Texas.

The mass Brazilian presence – doubling from 28 companies in 2014 – underscores just how seriously Brazil takes SXSW and that, increasingly abroad, it’s seen as far more than a straight-arrow indie film fest for just U.S. attendees.

Brazilian attendance was arranged, for instance, by 10 state orgs, led by Apex-Brasil, Brazil’s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency. Others supporting orgs range across film, TV, music, games, music, art, design, startups, software, IT, and venture capital orgs. One, international movie promo company, Cinema do Brasil, calls SXSW “the most innovative creative economy event in the world.”

Big Bonsai will screen fest-selected feature “Dominguinhos,” a bio-doc, that portrays Brazil’s most celebrated modern accordionist who performed with many of the Bossa Nova greats – there’s footage of Dominguinhos playing with Gilberto Gil, for instance – and broke out to have a successful career of his own, epitomizing the styles of his native Sertao in northeast Brazil. Joaquim Castro, Eduardo Nazarian and Mariana Aydar direct.

Brazilian film/TV shingles and dresign outfits will attend a March 16 company presentation before a “Dominguinhos”’ screening. Brazilian singer Aydarwill perform a pocket show.

Of movie companies, also attending are Querosene Filmes, a frequent co-producer with Argentina (“Juan and the Bailerina”) and Uruguay (“High Five”), Prodigo Films, producers of Vinicius Coimbra’s Rio Fest winner “Matraga,” and Minas Gerais-based Mosquito Project, whose productions range from fiction (fiction drama/feature “Supernova”) to docus (“Gueto Digital”) and conflict/trouble zone shoots.

With Brazil boasting the fourth highest number of Internet users in the world – 109.7 million in 2012 – digital content production, distribution and financing looks to be high on many companies agendas. Just as last year Mip TV launched Mip Digital Front and the Cannes Film Market Next, both forums for discussion of content production in a digital age, SXSW is increasingly prized abroad for its focus on digital content and convergence.

Among 2015 Brazilian SXSW badge holders, actress-director Alice Braga (“Elysium,” “City of God”) will attend, but not for a movie screening. Instead, with Los Bragas company partners, director-screenwriter Felipe Braga and producer Rita Moraes, she’ll sit on a panel in SXSW’S SXsports program on Neymar: From Brazil Soccer Star to YouTube Creator.

They will discuss with Google’s Rodrigo Abdalla their latest production, “Neymar Jr.’s Life Outside the Fields.” The three-season Web series, then featured TV series, sparked a dedicated Neymar Jr. YouTube channel and has earned brand support from Spain-based high street bank Santander, 30% international viewers and an Intl. Digital Emmy nomination.

“SXSW is an overwhelming experience – an invitation to rethink the way we structure our projects. As panelists (for the second consecutive year), we want to make sure Brazil is seen as a relevant source of ideas, helping to define global trends with innovative experiences,” said Felipe Braga and Rita Moraes. “Speaking at SXSW is not about presenting a project’s results, but sharing the challenges involved in trying to do something new.”

Likewise, Conspiraçao, one of Brazil’s top film (“House of Sands,” “Lope”) and TV (“Rouge Bresil”) production houses, attended SXSW last year for the first time, dispatching a movie director/creative exec. In 2015, by contrast, “our focus is on new business, understanding the future of digital content in all aspects: new medias (YouTube and other platforms), digital audience, contents and metrics, music and content, brands & content, and so on,” said Renata Braga, Conspiraçao exec director, corp/concept.

Run by Fernando Meirelles, Andrea Barata Ribeiro and Paulo Morelli, best known as a film company (“City of God,” “Trash”) but rapidly running up a fulsome TV drama production slate, 02 Filmes launched O2 Play, its theatrical and VOD arm, in February 2014.

“SWSW is a strategic festival for us. It represents the convergence of means and new formats for creating, producing and distributing content. We’re going to close deals with platforms, creative’s and to export new Brazilian content via digital,” agreed Igor Kupstas, director of O2 Play.

Brazil’s participation will feature a rented house Casa Brasil, open March 14-17, with lectures, workshops, networking facilities and the presentation of films, a March 14 presentation in SXSW’s Startup Village of 13 Brazilian startups, plus two panels, including one called Why Invest in Brazil. Apex-Brasil will also taken 10 Brazilian investment funds to SXSW, spread among venture capital initiatives, corporate venture funds and angel investors, to establish contact with international investors. FilmBrazil, part of the Brazilian Industry/Development Ministry that focuses on business, intellectual property, industry and brands, is another backer of Brazilian companies at SXSW. As the digital domain builds, so does its presence at film and TV events, and the urgency of movie and TV companies’ interest in its latest innovations.

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