Brazilian films outperform at fest, market

B.O. shows rising percentage of domestic fare

Brazilian movies are moving at the market this year. It helps that two of the country’s top directors are in official sections: Hector Babenco is competing with the prison tale “Carandiru,” and cult helmer Julio Bressane appears in the Directors Fortnight with “A Love Movie.” But down at the market, even a documentary about surfing is selling.

“This year has been very good for us at Cannes,” reports Grupo Novo de Cinema e TV topper Tarcisio Vidigal, who also co-produced “A Love Movie.” He believes there are “great expectations” inside and outside Brazil for a rising market share. “Carandiru,” which smashed box-office records in the country with 3.5 million tickets sold, should push the B.O. share of Brazil’s 30-35 domestic releases from 10% to 15% this year.

Indicative of the new wave is the appointment of famed singer Gilberto Gil as minister of culture in the recently elected government of Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. New rules for the film industry are already being put in place that will overhaul the way public funds are spent for production, distribution and exhibition — and which could permit the film sector to make a big leap forward, Vidigal says.

Selling well are many of the offbeat films unveiled at the Rio de Janeiro festival last October, from the outrageous “Mango Yellow” to the theatrical romp “Breaking Up” and the silent comedy parody “Margarette’s Feast.” There is even a restored and remastered DVD edition of “Black God White Devil,” the 1964 classic by the father of Brazilian cinema, Glauber Rocha.

Though each film is highly individual, they achieve their uniqueness with more dash than cash. “I shot ‘A Love Movie’ in two weeks, like all my other films,” Bressane tells Variety, “though I spent four months rehearsing the actors. A $100,000 budget goes further if you concentrate it.”

“Each film I make is an unrepeatable fresco sketched at the moment of shooting,” agrees Walter Carvalho, Brazil’s foremost cinematographer and d.p. for Walter Salles as well as Bressane and Babenco. “The best Brazilian films are moved by this spontaneity.”

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