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It’s All True Festival Helps Fuel Doc Boom in Brazil

The 20th edition of It’s All True — International Documentary Film Festival, the main fest in Latin America fully dedicated to docs, opened April 9 with the world premiere of “Last Conversations” by Eduardo Coutinho, above. The fest, which features the screenings of 109 films from 31 countries in five local cities (Sao Paulo, Rio, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Santos), takes places amid a documentary films production boom in Brazil. Fest ends April 19.

It’s All True has played an important role in the doc production sector development in Brazil in the past two decades. In 1995, when the first edition of the fest was about the launch, only three feature-length docs opened in Brazilian theaters. Last year, 36 docs were theatrically released here.

In the past 20 years, dozens of production companies dedicated to non-fiction features were created in Rio and Sao Paulo, and as local pay TV networks proliferated, non-fiction programming found a home on the smallscreen in order for the nets to fulfill quotas for Brazilian content.

“It’s All True provided the necessary visibility for docs in Brazil,” said local film critic and market analyst Pedro Butcher. “As in other countries, the doc production expansion is a direct consequence of the digital revolution, which made it easier and cheaper to produce (content).”

It’s All True’s founder and director Amir Labaki added: “People here seem to be hurry for non-fiction narratives, not only in film, but also in visual arts, theater and literature, including biographies, history and investigative journalism books.”

In spite of the record-high production and distribution of docs in the theatrical and other markets, both Butcher and Labaki stress that docs continue to be relegated to the niche of sophisticated audiences. Indeed, admissions to documentaries continue to be very low compared to mainstream pics. In 2014, the average admission of each of the 36 docs released in Brazil was 5,440 tickets, just a fraction of the market’s overall average of 498,618.

It’s All True is the high season for doc-friendly moviegoers. The fest offers local premieres of international high-profile pics, such as Oscar-winner “Citizenfour,” Stephanie Valloatto’s “Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy” from France, and Rudiger Suchsland’s “From Caligari to Hitler” from Germany. Helmed by Niko Apel and Ludi Boeken, “On the Road With Socrates” is of particular interest for local auds as it features an anthropological journey to analyze the impact of soccer in Brazilian society.

The fest will also present 16 world premieres of Brazilian docs, of which seven are competing for the 110,000 Real ($36,000) fest main prize for Brazilian feature and medium-length doc.

This edition of It’s All True honors the centennial of Orson Welles’ birth (1915). “It’s All True – Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles,” the 1993 docs about the failed attempt of Welles of making a feature in Brazil in the 1940s, was Labaki’s inspiration for the fest’s name.

A sign of It’s All True’s increasing importance, Labaki said, is the fact that its Brazilian and international short docs competitions will serve as qualifying for the submission of the 2015 Oscars.

 

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