Brazilian helmer fetes life, film

Novelist Varella attends event

Brazilian filmmaker Hector Babenco charmed guests Monday night at the Martinez Beach as attendees arrived bedecked in blacktie for an upscale dinner prior to “Carandiru’s” 10:30 p.m. bow in competition.

Helmer was in attendance with pic’s cast including Aida Lerner and Babenco’s real-life doctor and author of the novel on which his pic is based, Drauzio Varella.

“He literally saved my life after I was diagnosed with lymphoma and it is special for me to have him here to celebrate this night,” said Babenco, whose battle with cancer kept him away from directing for most of the 1990s.

Event was attended by such industryites as ICM chairman Jeff Berg, Sony Pictures Classics Tom Bernard, Michael Barker and Dylan Leiner, Endeavor’s John Lescher, Landmark Theatres’ exec veep Bert Manzari among others.

Helmer also was enthused by the reception his pic has had in his home country. Pic notched-up the largest opening weekend for a local pic in 10 years, selling 468,293 tickets and grossing 3.5 million reais ($1.15 million) from Friday to Monday.

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