RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio Creative Conference (Rio2C), the largest film-TV gathering in Latin America, wrapped its market sessions Friday April 26 with Christian de Castro, president off Ancine, Brazil’s foremost public-sector source, vowing to fully re-establish its incentives.
Castro spoke to an audience of producers and other players Brazil’s heavily incentive-dependent industry still in shock after the April 18 leak of his internal memo to Ancine’s employees recommending a halt in new incentive adjudications. The recommendation was aimed at protecting the employees from action taken by Brazil’s federal accountability office TCU, which is investigating Ancine for inadequate accounting procedures.
“We have taken the necessary legal measures, and I am confident the full operation will be re-established next week,” Castro told Variety. “In the meantime, Ancine continues to release funds to ongoing productions and analyzing new projects. The only processes put on hold are the first release of funding to recently approved projects.”
The TCU’s longterm probe questioned the ability of Ancine to process applications for funding fast enough, and as well as accounting adequately for its funding. Ancient runs the Audiovisual Sector Fund (FSA), covering state financing for the development, production and distribution of films and indie TV shows. Ancine funding amounts annually to some $300 million, about two thirds from the FSA and the remainder in tax incentives.
“I share Christian’s confidence on the reestablishment of all operations soon, but the TCU investigation will continue. We must find a solution to streamline accounting procedures,” said Mauro Garcia, executive president of the TV indie producers assn. Bravi.
While Castro is working to hire more staff for Ancine’s accounting division, Garcia advocates the creation of an external, independent accounting entity. He expects a permanent solution to eventually be found.
Bravi also believes the administration of president Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1t, will not reduce Brazil’s incentives to films and TV shows, in spite of an overall government drive to cut spending.
The worst nightmare is the repetition of president Fernando Collor’s policies, who shut down state-owned production and distribution company Embrafilme in 1990, nearly destroying a prosperous film industry.
Thanks in part to the longterm year-on-year increase in state incentives, Brazil now has Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The number of feature films released in the country rose from zero in 1991 and three in 1992 to the current annual average of 170, not to mention the 359 local TV shows that aired on channels in 2017, according to Bravi.
Neither the country’s economic slowdown nor Ancine’s troubles seem to have affected the appetite of international players for Brazil’s huge market. Netflix and Amazon are the most recent newcomers on the international players’ production scene in Brazil which sees its cable players subject to programming quotas.
HBO Latin America, a pioneer in high-end recurring series production in Brazil, announced at Rio2C “Todxs”, a series with eight episodes of 30 minutes created by Vera Egito, Heitor Dhalia and Daniel Ribeiro, which deals with LGBTQIA issues.
“In ‘Todxs,’ we will talk about important, current issues, aiming to increase discussions about minorities,” said Roberto Rios, corporate VP, original productions, HBO Latin America.
Netflix is the local industry’s new star. The company announced new productions during Rio2C, which will see Netflix release 30 Brazilian original series, films and documentaries over the next two years.
“Brazil has extraordinary talent and a long tradition of great storytelling. These 30 projects, which are in various stages of production in different locations across the country, will be made in Brazil and watched by the world,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
Some of the productions unveiled by Sarandos at Rio2C are “Modo aviao,” produced by A Fabrica, “Quem Nunca?,” a story by writer Thalita Rebouças, “Ricos de Amor,” a romantic comedy directed by Bruno Garotti, and “Carnaval,” produced by Camisa Listrada, a maker of local comedy blockbusters.