Miami-based sales and distribution company FiGa Films, led by Sandro Fiorin, has picked up worldwide sales rights to Brazilian AIDS inception drama “The First Fallen” (“Los Primeiros Soldados”) by Rodrigo de Oliveira.
Set to world premiere at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Int’l Film Festival, where it will also vie for the top prize, “The First Fallen” traces the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s when the first wave of the AIDS epidemic hit Brazil.
The story begins in 1983 in a small Brazilian town where a group of LGBTQIA+ men and women are celebrating the New Year and have no idea of the looming health crisis approaching. Suzano, a biologist, knows that something terrible is ravaging his body. Uncertain of his future and desperate at the lack of information, he reaches out to transsexual artist Rose and video filmmaker Humberto, both just as ill. Together, they’ll try to survive the emerging AIDS epidemic.
“We found this project in an early stage of development at the incredible BrLab three years ago,” said Fiorin, adding: “We fell in love with the story and kept it close to our heart until it became a reality.”
“It is an important film for me personally, being from Brazil and having come out in the late ‘80s myself at the height of the AIDS crisis,” said Fiorin, who will present this title among several others at the online AFM confab this year.
“The First Fallen” is the second feature that de Oliveira has directed on his own. Aside from three award-winning shorts, he is renowned for the 2018 Brazilian Academy award-winning feature-length docu “All Paulos in the World,” which he co-directed with Gustavo Ribeiro, as well as the 2011 black and white drama “The Vulgar Hours,” co-directed with Vitor Graize, his producing partner on “The First Fallen.”
In his director’s statement, De Oliveira explained: “The first time I understood that the word “gay” could describe me, the word “plague” was already intrinsically attached to it. The people I wanted to be as a kid were dying on TV, and I was told that for every pop idol in the spotlight there were hundreds of thousands in the darkness, invisible. Those were my elders, and yet I was denied their humanity.”
“And so, AIDS is not only a subject to explore, but the very foundation of my identity, of the identity of every LGBTQIA+ person, as tragic as it is transformative,” he continued. “To film those first bodies, to listen to those first voices, to rally behind those first radicals, is to reject that invisibility,” he said, adding: “’The First Fallen’ is the loving imagination of lineage, the invention of my family tree. A film about the dream of being yourself fully, whatever weight the world puts on your shoulders; about the importance of community and the support from our chosen family.”
“The First Fallen” is produced by Pique-Bandeira Filmes, the production company founded in 2011 by Graize, De Oliveira and Igor Pontini.
Founded in 2006 by Fiorin and his late partner Alex Garcia, FiGa Films was initially launched to select the best of Latin America’s latest cinema. It has since expanded to include projects from North America, Europe and Africa and now boasts a library of more than 100 titles.
In June last year, it launched streaming service FiGa en Casa which aimed to feature as many of these titles as territorial rights permit, introducing at least one new title a month.