A producer on Julia’s Murat’s Locarno competition player “Rule 34,” Brazil’s Tatiana Leite at Bubbles Project has unveiled a fulsome production slate which suggests a beginning of tentative film production renaissance in Brazil, driven by renewed state subsidy lines and the promise of regime change at October’s general elections.
According to Leite, one of Brazil’s most energetic international co-producers, Bubbles has currently three feature films in post-production and seven in development. The titles in post are:
*Horror film “A Herança” (“Birthright”), the feature debut of João Cândido Zacharias, in which Bubble teams as a majority producer with Sony Pictures International Production and Kromaki Filmes. It follows Thomas, a Brazilian young man who lives in Berlin with his boyfriend, and one day finds out that he’s the sole inheritor of a great-aunt. As they come to Brazil to get to know the isolated mansion Thomas just inherited, the couple is increasingly trapped by unknown forces. Film is beginning to be edited, Leite said. “It’s the kind of film that I hope will play many festivals, including Fantasia next year,” she added.
*“Amanhã Será Outro Dia” (“Tomorrow”), by Portuguese director Pedro Pinho, whose feature “The Nothing Factory” won large acclaim and Cannes 2017’s International Critics’ Prize. “A big production,” said Leite, it is co-produced with Portugal’s TerraTreme and Uma pedra no sapato, France’s Still Moving and deFilm in Romania, and shot for four months in Guinea Bissau and Mauritania.
“Tomorrow” turns on a Portuguese environmental engineer who decides to change his life traveling to a West African metropolis to work on a road-building project to link the jungle and the desert. Taken aback by the harshness of the elements, the oppressive heat and his loneliness, he meets two locals driven by a strong desire to escape and shake off their origins.
*“La estrategia del mero,” Edgar de Luque’s first film, a drama co-produced with Septima Films (Colombia), Belle Films (Puerto Rico), Kromaki Filmes (Brazil) and Larimar Films (Dominican Republic) about Samuel, the last lung fisherman of meros from the beaches of Santa Marta, and Priscila, a transsexual prostitute who flees to her father’s house. Old father-son conflicts still roil in a story of abandonment and machismo.
Meanwhile Bubbles has three projects in development – often by first-time directors – as a majority producer and three more, where it is taking minority equity positions:
*“Princesa” (“Princess”), by Karine Teles, the scribe and star of Gustavo Pizzi’s award-winning feature “Benzinho” (“Loveling”), a Bubbles’ hit which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Festival. “Princess,” co-produced with Brazil’s Filmes de Plástico and France’s Good Fortune Films, tells the story of a liberal couple who share baby caring duties, but suddenly suffers when the man goes down with a conservative “moral virus.”
*Partnering again with France’s Still Moving, Bubbles is preparing the drama “Porco-Espinho” (“Porcupine”), by Locarno’s Leopardino d’Oro winner Eva Randolph (“Then Elephants”), about a teen girl stuck in a colonial ghost town, who feels suffocated by her overbearing but infantile mother.
*Scheduled to roll from November, Pedro Feire’s “Malu” is a Bubbles-TVZero co-production which turns on a Rio de Janeiro 50-year-old unemployed actress with a glorious past, forced to live with her mother and deal with a disastrous relationship with her own daughter.
Bubbles Project is also co-producing with Argentina, Italy and France “Puán,” the new film by Maria Alché (“Familia sumergida”) and Benjamin Naishtat (“Pobres Pibes”), scheduled to lense at the end of the year; “God Bless You,” a new film by Gustavo Pizzi, in early stages of development; and the first feature by Venezuela’s Cannes Cinefondation winner Michael Labarca, “Kids Swimming in the Lake,” a just proclaimed winner at Locarno’s Open Doors.
“Everything took a lot of effort with very little money,” Leite says about the current state of film production in Brazil. Two factors, however, look set to prove game-changers, however.
Brazil’s Federal Accounts Tribunal (TCU), the same agency that in 2019 halted funding at Ancine’s Brazil’s all-powerful funding agency, brought a lawsuit against Ancine arguing that it had to spend the money it had collected since 2019 as a levy on telephone bill paid in the country and other contributions. That amounts to some 5 billion reais ($920 million) which Ancine has vowed to release over the next five years. Some film production lines have called for submissions, though moneys are yet to be located.
Second, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the frontrunner to win Brazil’s October general elections, ousting Jair Bolsonaro from power. “The perspective of Lula making comeback is highly positive,” said Leite. “Lula thinks that culture is one of the ways to develop the country,” she added. Brazil’s elections have been warped in the past by unexpected events. Brazil’s film industry is praying predictions play out this time round.