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Vania Catani’s Bananeira Filmes Launches New Gen Brazilian Talent, Primes Lucrecia Martel’s ‘Zama’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Propelled by new subsidies, TV coin, Brazil may finally be forming a New Brazilian Cinema

Vania Catani’s Bananeira Filmes Launches New

RIO DE JANEIRO — Argentina has a New Argentine Cinema; Carlos Reygadas, Mantarraya and Canana ushered in a new era in Mexico; the Novissimo Cine Chileno exploded onto the scene at the 2005 Valdivia Festival.

Now, finally, in a year when Brazil has selected Daniel Ribeiro’s “The Way He Looks” as its Foreign-Language Oscar entry – a first feature for its director and producer alike – the Latin America giant may be sewing the seeds of a New Brazilian Cinema.

Several factors are in play: Hiked direct incentives, tabbed by president Dilma Roussef at $540 million for 2014, and open to new directors; new TV coin from pay TV players such as Canal Brasil and Telecine, again accessible for first features; a new generation of producers, such as Bananeira Filmes’ Vania Catani.

Catani broke through producing actor-turned-director Selton Mello’s “Happy Christmas” and “The Clown,” a groundbreaking arthouse hit in Brazil. As she preps Selton Mello’s third feature, “A Movie Life,” and Brazilian co-production of historical drama “Zama,” a big step-up in scale for Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel (“La Cienaga”), Catani is advancing on four feature debuts. Two are genre movies – a novel play for young Brazilian moviegoers who largely just watch U.S. fare.

“A RioFilme study suggested young Brazilians have least prejudices against Brazilian films but we aren’t making films for them,” Catani said.

Hotly courted, Anita Rocha de Silveira’s “Kill Me Please,” a lead Bananeira co-production with Argentina’s REI Cine, is now in post. Set at a college in Rio’s luxurious Barra de Tijuca, where it seems a serial killer is on the loose, the teen horror film, which she is currently editing, marks Rocha de Silveira’s first feature after three celebrated shorts, the last of which, “The Living Dead,” played Cannes’ 2012 Directors Fortnight. Catani has already signed up Rocha de Silveira for a second feature. Jean-Thomas Bernadini’s Imovision Filmes will handle movie’s theatrical release.

Also from a Rio-based genre auteur, Ernesto Solis’ “The Animal Race” turns on a “Hunger Games” style human contest set in a futuristic Rio, desiccated by water-shortage, where the winner enslaves the defeated. Budget is $5 million. Co-scribes are Marco Abujamra and Felipe Braga, who co-wrote Stephan Daldry’s Rio-set “Trash.” Wilson Feitosa’s Europa Filmes distributes in Brazil.

Using Brazil’s Article 3 tax credit, MGM has boarded “Animal Race” and “A Movie Life” as an equity partner.

“We want to give a Brazilian vision of the future. Film will have VFX but it turns essentially on future social conflict,” Solis said at Rio, adding that it was inspired in part by an illegal gambling game El jogo del bicho.

From theater actor-turned helmer Guilherme Weber, arthouse movie “Desert,” about a circus troupe that settles down in a village, trying to create a stable community, is

also in post. It adapts Mexican novelist David Toscana’s “Santa Maria do Circo.”

Globo TV helmer Jose Luis Villamarim rolls Oct. 20 on “Whirlpool,” a two old friends’ reunion drama written by George Moura, a co-scribe on Walter Salles’ Cannes best actress winner “Linha do Passe.” Screenplay adapts Luis Ruffato’s novel “Inferno Provisorio”; Walter Carvalho serves as d.p. Irandhir Santos and Julio Andrade topline. “This is a film of actors,” Catani said.

All four feature debuts have funding from Brazil’s Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA). With regards to TV finance, Brazil’s studio-backed pay TV operator Telecine has put up coin for “Animal Race,” “Kill Me Please” and “Whirlpool.”

“Telecine finance was crucial for ‘Kill Me Please,’” Catani said.

Meanwhile, the final pieces look to be falling into place on Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama,” starring Mexican actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho (“Y tu mama también,” “Bad Education”).

Lead-produced by Benjamin Domenech’s REI Cine, “Zama,” which is set to shoot in Corrientes, is co-produced by Pedro and Agustin Almodovar’s El Deseo, Bananeira, France’s Marie-Pierre Macia’s MPM and now Portugal’s Rosa Filmes. The Match Factory handles international sales. Telecine is once more co-financing “Zama.”

If it pulls down completion finance, such as from Brazil’s Fundo Sectorial do Audiovisual (FSA), it will be able to shoot in April 2015, Catani said.

“It’s a bigger production but still a Lucrecia Martel film,” said Catani.

It is helping to cultivate a new generation of Brazilian filmmakers that is focusing much of the energy of Catani. Naturally often produced at other outfits, the figures of a New Brazilian Cinema and their frequent traits – enrollment of genre, whether horror, thriller, action, even Western or war films; Sundance or Cannes training facility alums; major fest plaudits – are beginning to come together: Marco Dutra (“All the Dead Ones”), Anita Rocha de Silveira (“Kill Me Please”), Fernando Coimbra (“A Wolf at the Door”), Daniel Ribeiro (“The Way He Looks”), Selton Mello (“A Movie Life”), Gregorio Graziosi (“Obra”), Felipe Braga (“Latitudes”), Kloiber Mendonca Filho (“Neigboring Sounds”), Vinicius Coimbra (“Matraga”), Vicente Ferraz (“Road 47”), Fellipe Barbosa (“Casa Grande”), Ernesto Solis (“Animal Race”).

Some already work together: Graziosi and Dutra on Graziosi’s upcoming “Tinnitus,” Solis and Braga on the screenplay of “Animal Race.”

More could emerge at this year’s Rio Fest where half of the Premiere Brasil fiction features are debuts.