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‘Rio’ s’ Carlos Saldanha Teams With Ventre Studio, Warner Bros. on Brazilian Super Hero Film Series

Iemanja
Courtesy of Ventre Studio

L.A.-based, Brazilian filmmaker Carlos Saldanha, director of “Ice Age” and “Rio” franchise movies and creator of Netflix series “Invisible City,” is joining forces with Brazil’s outfit Ventre Studio and Warner Bros. Pictures to co-create and direct superhero feature project “Iemanjá – Ocean’s Goddess.”

“Iemanjá” is planned as the first movie in a series that transports the Brazil’s Candomblé gods to a superhero universe, being a pioneering Brazilian production of this genre.

Following a crucial theme in Brazilian culture, “Iemanjá – Ocean’s Goddess” will tell the story of Iemanjá, an Orixá or goddess adored by the Brazilian people and also known as the Queen of the Sea. With Ogum, the King of War, as her mentor, Iemanjá, who has psychic abilities, battles with Iansã, an Orixá worshiped as the Storm Goddess.

“Iemanjá is a symbol to all Brazilian people, independently of the religion or faith of each one of us. We believe in this figure’s power, part of our ancestral heritage, that has everything to captivate the audience around the globe in the same way as the Greek, Roman, Persians or Scandinavian gods, since they are all part of our imaginary,” Saldanha said in a statement.

“We from Warner Bros. Pictures, have been launching superhero movies for a decade. This time we will take to cinema screens a deity adored by the Brazilians and that turns the movie into a celebration itself, from a culture and faith that many people share. We will use our know-how and expertise to make this project a success,” said Hernán Viviano, vice-president of Warner Bros. Pictures Brasil’s Theatrical Division.

“The Afro-Brazilian mythology of the Orixás, with gods and goddesses, men and women with strong stories, superpowers and a deep relationship with the forces of nature, will be able to captivate the imagination of people around the world, just as we are enchanted with great heroes and heroines inspired by Norse (Thor) or Greek (Wonder Woman) mythology,”, said Paula Cosenza, founding partner of Ventre Studio and “Iemanjá – Ocean’s Goddess” producer.

For “Iemanjá – Ocean’s Goddess,” which will probably become one of the biggest Brazilian movies ever made, Ventre Studio plans to tap a mixture of direct investment and Brazilian government funds.

The goal is to develop the film this year and shoot in 2023.

“In Candomblé, there are gods and goddesses interacting with each other. It’s very interesting because they are not all positive, they have their faults, they have wars, they are very complex. Then the idea came about to transform this into a superhero saga,” said  João Queiroz, founding partner at Ventre.

“It is an honor and a huge responsibility to produce a series of superhero films, with popular and exciting language, based on an ancestral mythology that is so present in the daily life of the Brazilian population,” he said.

“For a challenge like this, we formed a fantastic team, which values respect for the origins of this mythology, with the ambition to do something extraordinary,” he added.

Brazilian actress and ambassador of ONU Mulheres Brasil, Camila Pitanga (“Paraiso Tropical,” “I’d Receive the Worst News from Your Beautiful Lips”) is joining the project as executive producer.

“It is a great joy to evoque one of the dearest figures of our ancestry, a deity that for sure will bless this project and will make it reach all places and speak to the young people of the world. It is a joy, a responsibility and a beautiful vibration,”, she celebrated.

Comic book artist Ivan Reis (“Justice League,” “Superman,” “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman”) has also joined the creative team to oversee the visual identity of “Iemanjá – Ocean’s Goddess” characters and as an associate producer.

“The creative possibilities are immense and to be a part of it is an honor. My mother was Mãe de Santo and I grew up in a house linked to Candomblé, and I know that Iemanjá is already known and revered throughout the country, and using her mythology to influence the creation of a world of superheroes is something that I can barely wait to see come true,” said Reis, a  multiple award-winning professional who worked exclusively for DC Comics.

The team also counts on Renato Nogueira, a professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro and researcher at the Laboratory of Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous Studies. He is responsible for translating elements of Yoruba culture into a superhero film, “an aesthetic-political opportunity to bring structuring elements from Brazil, such as the Black culture, to the pop [culture] scene”, he argued.

“This story is a huge responsibility, but they are working hard, investigating and studying with a lot of respect and kindness, so they can bring to the screen a feature film that shows Brazil’s cultural richness to the world. “I’m sure that the result will be amazing,”  Saldanha added.

The recently launched, São Paulo-based shingle Ventre Studio has highly ambitious film plans. Last summer, Ventre unveiled an alliance with Saldanha and Buena Vista Intl.-Disney for “100 Days,” marking the Brazilian filmmaker’s first live-action feature as director.