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Latin America: Up Next! – Gabriela Amaral Almeida

Brazilian screenwriter-director readies directorial debut

“A woman director who likes to make Tarantino movies,” says Rodrigo Teixeira, Gabriela Amaral Almeida has just shot her debut, the violent “The Friendly Animal,” for Teixeira’s RT Features, producer of Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha,” Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” and James Gray’s upcoming “To the Stars.”

Lensed by ace cinematographer Barbra Alvarez, and a Western – or so it seems in its huit clos set-up, and gathering primal brutality – “Animal” turns on restaurant owner whose attacked, shoots one aggressor. Turning the tables, with the help of his waitress, he takes his staff and clients hostage, holing up in his restaurant. “That night,” the synopsis reads, the most primitive instincts will be aroused.”

Part of a glittering new generation of Brazilian directors at RT Features that takes in Marco Dutra – whose “Era el cielo” has just been picked up by IM Global/Canana’s Mundial – and Ali Muritiba (“To My Beloved”), Amaral is “an amazing screenwriter,” says Teixeira.

She also has range, though most of her films sport genre gristle, co-penning Marco Dutra’s “When I was Alive,” writing a Walter Salles screenplay, and attending a 2014 Sundance Institute Lab with “The Father’s Shadow,” which channels Victor Erice as much as Tarantino. A neo-genre film, “Shadow” weighs in both an intimate family horror tale  – a young girl conjuring up the spirit of her dead mother – and as a story of social horror, focusing on Brazil’s galloping modernization which favors a wadded financial class at the expense of Brazil’s working classes.

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“The Friendly Animal” will be ready for Cannes.

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