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CANNES: L.A.’s FiGa Films Launches FiGa/Br (EXCLUSIVE)

Daniel Aragao’s ‘Town’ and Gregorio Graziosi’s ‘Obra’ first titles at groundbreaking Brazilian label

MADRID – L.A.-based sales-production and distribution house FiGa Films, one of the leading specialists in Latin American art fims, is creating a dedicated label for Brazilian films: FiGa/Br.

The move comes as FiGa confirmed that Maria Rondon’s “Pelo Malo” (Bad Hair), will open theatrically in the U.S. this fall, distributed directly by FiGa, in an exclusive engagement at New York’s prestigious Film Forum.

“Opening at the Film Forum is a huge validation. After playing there, every other arthouse cinema in the U.S will be interested in ‘Bad Hair,’” said FiGa founder Sandro Fiorin.

In another sign of growth, new FiGa partner Robert Koehler, the former Lincoln Center programming director and Variety reviewer, will focus on bringing projects and films to FiGa from North America, “We are an American company, based in L.A., but we are hardly known here,” Fiorin said.

Run by FiGa’s Sandro Fiorin, a Brazilian national, and up-and-running for Cannes, FiGa/Br will sell about six Brazilian movies a year, tapping into Brazil’s up-and-coming talents newest generation of directors.

FiGa/Br’s first titles will be Daniel Aragao’s “I Swear I’ll Leave This Town” and Gregorio Graziosi’s awaited debut “Obra.”

Dubbed a “psycho-thriller” by Aragao, “Town” marks Aragao’s follow-up to his feature debut “Good Luck, Sweetheart,” a music-drenched visually stunning road-movie which, world premiering at Locarno in 2012, established Aragao as a talent to track.

Turning on the relationship between a politician and his daughter, a former drug addict, “Town” is “a boundary-breaking wild ride, with a lot of psychiatric drama and pathos and the look of a ‘70s Samuel Fuller film,” Fiorin said. Bernie Worrell, aka Dr.Woo, a founder of Parliament Funkadelic, composed “Town’s” soundtrack.

A cult short director, Graziosi had 2007’s “Saba” at Cannes Cinefondation; “Mira” played Locarno, “Saltos” won Best Ibero-American Film at Mar del Plata.

Seen at 2013’s BAL, then in Salvador at December’s 2nd Boutique Cinema do Brazil, the noir mystery “Obra” turns on an architect’s growing qualms as construction on his latest work unearths human bones, part of an underground cemetery maybe linked to his family, which was close to Brazil’s military dictatorship.

Produced by Zita Carvalhosa’s Superfilmes (“Alice’s House”), “Obra” stars Irandhir Santos (“Elite Squad 2,””Neighboring Sounds”) and Lola Peploe (“The Queen,” “The Other Man”), niece of Clare Peploe, who co-wrote Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point.” “Obra” owes a debt to Antonioni and early Italian neo-realism, Fiorin said.

FiGa/Br’s launch comes as Brazil has ramped up hugely state production funding – in December, public-sector agency Ancine announced $170 million in film/TV incentives for 2014 – meaning that auteur filmmaking can flourish in Brazil, exempt from the brutal market pressure at work in much of the world.

But Brazil has a palpable lack of sales agents to bring funded films onto the international market. In an effort to court sales agents for Brazilian films, promo org Cinema do Brazil has launched a Sales Agent Support scheme, offering up to $40,000 to a sales agent selling a Brazilian movie at a major fest and, via it Distribution Support Award incentives, matching funds of up to $25,000 to distributors opening a Brazilian film in their territory.

While most sales agents are lucky to have a passing knowledge of production in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, FiGa/Br will seek to identify talent beyond even Brazil’s major regional movie hubs such as Minas Gerais and Pernambuco, Fiorin said.

That move anticipates more regional build across the whole of Brazil.

“There are a lot of exciting things going on in southern Brazil. We need to be there,” he argued.

FiGa/Br will employ two-or-three local observers, Fiorin added.

“There are some hugely talented young directors and producers, who are also highly professional, but they don’t yet have the experience to go to festivals, We can help to launch their films and careers internationally” Fiorin said.

FiGa/Br’s sales slate will grow to six titles by Toronto, he added.

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