Brazilian distribution company Pandora Filmes was founded by André Sturm in 1989 as the country’s first independent distributor of foreign and domestic, classic and contemporary arthouse cinema.
Still pushing the envelope three decades later, Juliana Brito is representing the company at this year’s Lumiere Festival, looking for classic film titles to fill out the catalog of Brazil’s first-of-its-kind classic film streaming platform Belas Artes, which Pandora will launch on Oct. 31.
Over the past three decades the company has worked to grow independent film distribution in Brazil with re-releases of memorable classics as well as premiering award-winning contemporary international cinema.
“When I started Pandora 30 years ago, there were no independent distributors in the country,” Sturm told Variety. “So, we could screen a very limited number of ‘arthouse’ films. Films honored in Cannes, Berlin and other Festivals did not arrive.”
In 2003 Sturm teamed with O2 Filmes on a major renovation of the historic Petra Belas Artes building in Sao Paolo and began exhibiting films in 2004. The updated theater was inaugurated with a screening of “The Other Side of the Street,” starring Brazilian cinema legends Fernanda Montenegro and Raul Cortes.
The building has been updated several times since, and now screens a range of films as diverse as those distributed across the country by Pandora.
Currently, the cinema is screening “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Midsommer,” with Bong Joon Ho’s Palme d’Or winner “Parasite” set to arrive shortly as well as Josué Ramos’ award-winning Spanish horror film “Bajo la Rosa” and Italian actress-turned-director Valeria Golino’s “Euphoria.”
Tickets are reasonably priced between $3.00 and $8.00, depending on the day. The films selected to screen at Belas Artes also stay longer than is typical for the country. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” for example, released in Brazil on Aug 15.
Although Pandora and Belas Artes have established a culture of international cinema in Brazil, it’s still often difficult for cinephiles to find classic older films and more obscure contemporary ones. The company can only screen so many films at Belas Artes, and people outside Sao Paolo often have little to no access to these kinds of films.
Unsatisfied with that reality, Belas Artes the cinema will come to the people starting Oct 31 in the form of a digital streaming service of the same name.
“That’s the main reason of my trip to Lyon this year,” Brito told Variety. “We are looking for classic and cult films that are hard to find and watch these days. We’re preparing a very special catalogue and as we don’t have any streaming services like this in Brazil, with these kinds of films, we are very confident in our product!”
According to Sturm, the service will feature three types of films: Classics from well known directors which feature popular actors, cult favorites and recent films which received a theatrical release. While the focus will be on international films, the platform will also stream Brazilian movies.
Again, the pricing is appealing at only R$9.90 ($2.50 USD) a month, although viewers just looking to scratch an itch will have a TVOD option as well to screen a la carte.