LOCARNO, Switzerland — Belo Horizonte-based Anavilhana, one of Brazil’s most prominent regional production houses which has also inherited talent and energies from the legendary Teia collective, is producing the next films by Sergio Borges and Clarissa Campolina, two of Teia’s leading lights.
Producer Luana Melgaço, who in 2011 activated Anavilhana with Campolina and film director Marilia Rocha (“Where I Grow Old”), another Teia member, is attending Locarno’s Match Me! networking initiative where she is presenting both titles as well as “Royal Court,” to be directed by Julia de Simone, and “Kevin,” by Joana Oliveira.
At its height, Teia proved a bracing industry response to the duopoly of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in film production, and a new source of large creative and political regional energy firmly anchoring its films in local reality, whether Borges’ Belo Horizonte-set docu-fiction “The Sky Above,” about three characters experiencing change – such as a transsexual who pays for her master’s degree studies working as a prostitute – or “Swirl,” a portrait of an elderly woman’s daily routines in a rural village in the state of Minas Gerais, as she struggles to assimilate her husband’s death.
“Teia was one of the first professional cinema collectives in Brazil. Everybody, from festivals, cinemas and professionals respected it a lot. Any film that came from Teia was a film to be seen,” recalls Leila Bourdoukan, Cinema do Brasil executive manager.
Activated to produce “Swirl,” maybe the highest-profile title from Teia, Anavilhana’s slate is now broader, ranging from the experimental (“Deserter”) to the more accessible arthouse, as in Rocha’s fiction feature debut, “Where I Grow Old,” a 2016 Rotterdam Festival competition player.
Now in post-production, and inspired by a book which Borges read when a youngster about how to create a new society, “Coiote,” Borges’ second feature, has been made against the background of of a young, cultured generation of filmmakers in Brazil who question what kind of society they want to live in and where they would like Brazil to go.
If “Coiote” addresses this issue, it is in a “sensorial way,” Melgaço said at Locarno.
The story turns on an encounter between the 50-year-old André, who has ended his marriage, given up his career, and retreated to live alone in a forest. He finds the much-younger, free-wheeling Coiote asleep on his property, and with him, begins to recuperate the values of his youth and a lust for life.
“Building a fable, and via the use of performance, Sergio Borges, makes us feel the importance of sexuality, our connection with nature,” said Melgaço, who also produced “The Sky Above,” “Breath” and “Where I Grow Old.” .
Unlike Teia films, “Coiote” uses a cast of professional actors led by Caio Horowitz (“Cailfornia”), Enrique Diaz (“Moscow”) and Maeve Jinkings (“Aquarius”). Cinematography is by Ivo Lopes Araujo, who impressed in “Swirl,” sound design by Pablo Lamar (“Neighboring Sounds), and editing by Ricardo Pretti (“August Winds”).
Campolina’s solo debut after “Swirl,” the Mar del Plata 2011 Best Latin American Film winner, “Faraway Song” depicts the journey into adulthood of Jimena, a girl from the highly conservative Minas Gerais family who attempts to break free from her family and control her own destiny. Her father, a Ecuadorian translator who travels the world, left the family when she was a child, and the only connection she has with him is by letter. Sent from a more liberal world, his letters, however, prove a source of inspiration.
“Faraway Song” “rethinks the idea of conventional relationships between parents, their children and their own culture,” the synopsis runs.
It is written by Campolina and Caetano Gotardo, an editor on Locarno 2017 International Competition entry “Good Manners,” and co-screenwriter of Marco Dutra’s 2016 solo directorial feature, “Era el cielo,” produced by RT Features.
Campolina is currently honing the screenplay, now at a third version, at the MacDowell Colony. 40% of financing in already in place – a lot for a film at this stage of development in Brazil.
“Luana Melgaço is the kind of producer we need in Brazil. She does the type of films that must be seen in theaters in Brazil and she achieves that working with a lot of different directors,” said Bourdoukan.
Anavilhana also forms part of a still small but building art-house scene in Brazil which is attracting a far younger arthouse crowd than in Europe. State funding, via Brazilian agency Ancine, has proved key to its growth, Melgaço said at Locarno.
Thanks to Ancine, “especially over the last decade, we’ve been experiencing a considerable rise in resources for production, through different financing lines,” she said.
She added: “We’re able to produce more, to produce better films and boost a more diverse cinema: New directors, new voices, different cultures, scenarios and points of view. Gradually, our films have reached Brazilian audiences via various platforms – movie theaters, TV, film festivals, VoD.”