‘Movie Life,’ ‘Forest,’ ‘Last Stand’ Feature in Films from Rio

Development initiative bows at Cannes, bound for Rio Fest’s Market, Ventana Sur

Brazilian actor-turned-director Selton Mello has is following up his milestone art film “The Clown,” Brazil’s Oscar entry, with “A Movie Life” adapting the book “A Distant Father” by Chilean Antonio Skarmeta, one of whose other novels was turned by Michael Radford into “The Postman.”

A rites-of-passage story of big dreams in ‘60s small-town Brazil, “A Movie Life” turns on Tony, who returns from college to his home-town in the sleepy sierras of southern Brazil. His father has fled home. Tony becomes a teacher college graduate, courts a lovely local girl, frequents a cinema in a neighboring town – which harbors a shocking surprise.

“Everything that I hold dear is there,” Mello said of Skarmeta’s novella: A great emotional adventure, captivating characters, a fun and moving plot.”

Written by “The Clown” scribe Marcelo Vindicatto, “A Movie Life” is set up at Vania Catani’s Bananeira Filmes, producer of “The Clown,” which broke box office barriers for an arthouse pic in Brazil, selling 1.5 million admissions at the Brazilian box office, suggesting that an audience exists there for very select Brazilian art pics.

“A Movie Life” is co-financed by Rio de Janeiro investment fund RioFilme, and will be distributed in Brazil by Europa Films.

“A Movie Life” is one of seven titles in development that Films From Rio, a new project development initiative launched in 2014 by a broad alliance of Rio de Janeiro film authorities.

In a pioneering three-event link-up, having been unveiled at the Cannes Market, including a Producers Network event, the projects will be re-presented at the Rio Festival’s Rio Market, and then at Ventana Sur.

Also in the mix: EH! Filmes’ “The Moving Forest,” produced by Elisa Tolomelli, a line-producer on “City of God” and “Central Station,” and the follow-up by Emmy Award winner Vinicius Combra (“Lado a Lado”) to debut “The Hour and Turn of Augusto Maltraga,” which won five kudos, including best film and audience award at 2012’s Rio Festival.

Other Films From Rio titles include Allan Ribeiro’s dance drama “A Lonely Man,” Jefferson De’s tale of soccer ambitions, “Go For It, Glanderson,” and Felipe Braganca’s “Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl,” a cross-border young teen love story.

Two Films From Rio’s projects, both with genre gristle, were unveiled at Berlin: the buzzed-up “Ponzi’s Last Stand,” from Rio-based U.S writer-director David Meyer, a crime thriller detailing psychotic delusion, turning on the last days of con-artist Charles Ponzi, spent in Rio; and Henrique Goldman’s TV Zero-produced psychological thriller “A Man Called Death,” about a Brazilian hit-man with 492 victims.

“Films from Rio is an initiative that gives us an early chance to introduce some of the most exciting and up-and-coming Rio-based film projects, producers and directors directly to the international market, and possible international partners,” explained Sergio Sa Leitao, the city of Rio’s secretary of culture and president of RioFilme.

“Through this unique partnership in Brazil we will try and make sure that the right projects being developed in Rio meet the appropriate international partners at the earliest opportunity so that they can help shape these films with international as well as domestic Brazilian market appeal.”

Backers include muscular film-TV investment fund RioFilme, Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Culture, the Rio Film Festival/RioMarket, the Sebra Brazilian Agency for Entrepreneurship, and the Rio Film Commission. Oversight for Films From Rio rests with Rio’s Inter-State Audiovisual Industry Union producers assn. (SICAV).

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