Brazil producer adds overseas arm

Conspiracao Filmes opens office in Germany

Underscoring the increased overseas ambitions of Brazil’s film industry, top Brazilian producer Conspiracao Filmes will establish an international division in Germany.

The unit will oversee international co-productions, film sales on Conspiracao films and their festival presence. Headquartered in Hamburg, the office will be run by company partner Leonardo Monteiro de Barros and bow in January.

The expansion ushers in Conspiracao’s first forays into Spanish- and English-language co-production.

First international projects are Toni Vanzolini’s $4.6 million romantic family film “Me and My Umbrella,” with Cologne’s 2 Pilots, rolling July; two Spain-Brazil Spanish-language pics from helmer Andrucha Waddington, a company partner who made “House of Sand” for Conspiracao; and an English-language U.S.-Brazil docupic, with Brazilian producer Luiz Tubaldini Jr. and Latinamerica Ent., “MOTL — March of the Living,” about a silent Holocaust remembrance march from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

For majority co-prods, Conspiracao looks to gap finance the last 20%, leveraging co-prod treaties.

Where it takes a minority stake, it needs a Brazilian element — director, location or thesps, Barros says. It will focus on U.S. and European co-pro projects, he adds.

Conspiracao’s international branch corresponds with the consolidation of an advantageous tax break in Brazil, which was created in the first half of the 1990s and gradually expanded and diversified to respond to the industry’s needs. One of the systems allows film investors to enjoy a 100% write-off on up to 3% of corporate tax liability.

Some 80% of Conspiracao’s coin in “Me” is tax money.

A Germany-Brazil treaty, which Brazil will ratify in October, eases co-prod regs.

Conspiracao’s main aim is to help its 16 partners, of whom half are film directors, get more exposure outside the country. “It’s a talent-driven company,” says Barros.

The move reflects the restlessness of a generation which has been making films for a decade and yearns to make more challenging, international films.

Conspiracao was founded in 1991 and rapidly became one of Brazil’s leading commercial and musicvideo producers. The company’s first feature was “Betrayal,” released in 1988. It has produced 11 features and other pics are in postproduction.

Conspiracao will continue making three or four films a year in Portuguese, Barros stresses. It has a strong base and growing market there. Breno Silveira’s “Two Sons of Francisco,” released in 2005, is the highest-grossing Brazilian pic of the past 25 years.

But, “There a clear market limitation for Portuguese-language films. The market for Spanish- and English-language films is much larger,” says Barros.

Conspiracao plans one or two Spanish- or English-language movies annually.

“We believe there’s a potential for Brazilian talent in non-Portuguese films. And co-production alliances are a great way to internationalize and make bigger films,” he concludes.

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