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Brazilian Filmmakers Find New Audiences At Home, Abroad

World Cup, Olympics help shine spotlight on Brazil

From the point of view of world sports, Brazil is about to have its blazing moment in the sun. Will this period of high visibility also extend to other sectors of its culture?

Andre Sturm, prexy of film promotion agency Cinema do Brasil, thinks it will. “As Brazil hosts the soccer World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in three years, there’s also tremendous interest in Brazilian cinema,” he says.

Even without the boost from sports, Brazil’s film market has exploded since 2008, with 10% more screens at 2,517; 64% more admissions at 146.4 million; 108% higher box office take at $808 million; and 260% more pay TV subscribers at 16.2 million.

Brazilian cinema has the highest domestic box office share of any Latin American country — 13% on average since 2001, with 18% forecast in 2013 and producers targeting 25% to 30% in two years.

The booming Latin American pay TV business is also opening new revenue streams and, in the wake of a 2012 TV Law, more investment is channeling into TV and film productions.

Higher public funding and greater coordination between municipal, state and federal agencies has fuelled co-productions, and market-savvy public agencies such as RioFilme are investing in projects with both domestic and international potential.

“We have spectacular locations, great music, excellent technicians, strong talent and attractive co-production treaties,” says Conspiracao Filmes’ partner Leonardo M. Barros, who’s prepping a $6 million animation film with France and Canada, a romantic comedy with Colombia’s “Dynamo and Rio,” “I Love You” with BossaNova and Empyrean.

Following international theatrical successes “Elite Squad 2,” “Carandiru” and “City of God,” the surge in co-productions is furthering access to top festival slots and foreign theatrical bows — although no Brazilian film has made the cut at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

“Co-productions, based on genuine cultural inter-breeding, open up doors internationally,” says BossaNova’s CEO Paula Cosenza, citing Rio and musical documentary Tropicalia.

“Over the last 15 years, Brazilian producers have been learning what the international market is looking for, with key support from Cinema do Brasil,” says producer Fabiano Gullane.

At Cannes, Cinema do Brasil will be organizing Momento Brazil, a special showcase for Brazilian cinema, in conjunction with Brazil’s export promotion agency, Apex.

Gullane Filmes will screen previews of Sergio Machado’s favela transformation tale, Heliopolis, co-produced with Fox Latin America; Luiz Bolognesi’s futuristic animation pic “Rio 2096 — Story of Love and Fury”; and Thierry Ragobert’s $20 million 3D pic Amazonia, co-produced with France’s Biloba and sold by Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte.

More Brazilian films need to score substantial foreign box office — a foreign-language movie challenge worldwide — and an increasing number of Brazilian producers are inking deals with international sales agents. These include L.C. Barreto’s Berlin-player “Reaching for the Moon” (Film Consultancy); Kinoosfera/Dezenove’s Colors (“Alpha Violet”); and Dezenove’s five-picture deal with Urban Distribution Intl.

Remake rights are also up for grabs; Spanish-language remake rights to Roberto Santucci’s “Upside Down” sex comedy franchise were sold at the Guadalajara fest to Mexico’s Spectrum Films.

Brazilian media giant Globo is also upping its film investment, which includes funds for Mauricio Faria’s 2013 comedy hit Vai que da certo and $6 million urban western Faroeste caboclo.

“There’s a wonderful opportunity at the moment, because Brazil’s in vogue,” says Dezenove Filmes’ Sara Silveira. “People are looking for new original voices.”

“The Brazilian market is constantly growing and embracing new genres,” adds Gullane. “As well as upping our domestic share we want to energize our film exports, and we’re on the right track.”

Rising Talent, Better B.O. and a Path to Hollywood:   Brazil’s new generation 

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