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Cultura

Luiz Carlos Merten

01 Novembro 2008 | 20h02

José Eduardo Belmonte termina o comentário dele no CineBH, pelo menos segundo o que nos informa a Ana D’Angelo, citando Fernando Meirelles. O próprio Meirelles me enviou um e-mail no outro dia, chamando a atenção para um artigo no ‘The Los Angeles Times’. O curioso é que o artigo em questão envolve o novo filme de Heitor Dhalia, cujo ‘Cheir do Ralo’ me parece um dos mais criativos filmes nacionais dos últimos tempos. Espero que vocês leiam inglês. Se quiserem comentar, acho que poderemos tirar daqui, e do que disseram Carlos Reichenbach e Belmonte (citados no post anterior), uma discussão bastante interessante. O teor do texto do jornal norte-americano refere-se à contribuição de investidfores estrangeiros no ressurgimento do cinema brasileiro. Espero não estar infringindo leis de copyright…

Filmmakers will complete 90 productions this year, about a dozen partnered with U.S., Asian, Canadian and European producers.
By Chris Kraul
10:15 PM PDT, October 22, 2008
Reporting from Sao Paulo, Brazil — Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia was delighted and profoundly relieved to finally see his movie “Drifting” screened this month. The completion of the film based partially on his childhood ended an emotionally grueling two-year gestation.

But Dhalia’s $3.4-million-budget picture, which opens early next year, is also part and parcel of a co-production trend gathering steam in the Brazilian film industry. His movie was partnered with Universal Studios, one of the many foreign producers coming to Brazil to make deals.

The co-productions are a sign of the Brazilian film industry’s growing prestige and its emergence from two decades in the financial doldrums. Once among the most active in Latin America, the nation’s filmmaking industry was decimated by devaluations, hyperinflation and shifting government policies.

After making just two movies in 1991, Brazilian filmmakers will complete 90 productions this year, of which about a dozen will be partnered with U.S., Asian, Canadian and European producers, said Andre Sturm, chairman of Brazil Cinema, an industry association.

Foreign television and cable programmers are also striking deals here. HBO just produced and premiered its fourth Brazilian mini-series in three years, a 13-episode drama called “Alice” that was partnered with Gullane Films of Sao Paulo. The plot revolves around a country girl who comes to the big city — Sao Paulo — to attend her father’s funeral.

“There is a resurgence of production going on,” said Roberto Rios, vice president of HBO Latin America, which has 1.5 million subscribers in Brazil. The cable channel is currently developing five other series for eventual showing over its South American network spanning 27 countries. “Every investment we’ve made here has harvested results.”

Rios added that growing cable penetration of Brazilian households, another sign of this country’s expanding economy, is an attraction for the cable programmer. Currently only 5% of households are wired for cable TV, compared with 50% in Argentina, according to Fernando Fernandes, a media consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in Sao Paulo.

Dhalia’s producer O2 Films struck the deal with Universal in part by touting this country’s tax breaks. A law that passed a decade ago allows producers to reinvest the taxes they owe in future film projects.

For Brazilian companies, deals with U.S. and European firms give them a marketing advantage that comes with movies of mixed nationalities.

Fabiano Gullane, whose company partnered on the production of “Alice” with HBO, said he was releasing two films this year, “Birdwatchers” and “Plastic City,” co-produced respectively by Italian and Chinese-Japanese backers. Both were screened recently at the Venice Film Festival.

“Our partners are going to promote the movies much better in their countries than I could from here,” Gullane said during an interview in his Sao Paulo office.

For U.S. producers, offshore deals are a means of lowering costs and hedging their financial bets at a time that the banking crisis has made film production loans at home harder to come by.

But their presence is also part of the stylistic cross-pollination process whose effect perhaps has been most visible in the influence that avant-garde Mexican filmmakers have had on Hollywood producers in recent years.

“People seem to be looking for fresh ideas and different environments,” said Cao Hamburger, director of the acclaimed “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation,” a co-production with Disney. “It probably comes from globalization, the interest in new cultures.”

Apart from financial and marketing advantages, Brazil is slowly rebuilding its technical and talent base. It’s the cradle of hit-making directors such as Walter Salles (“Central Station”), Hector Babenco (“Carandiru” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) and Fernando Meirelles (“City of God” and “Blindness.”)

But Brazil’s appeal to movie producers for the moment has little to do with theater audiences. Total admissions to Brazilian movie theaters actually shrank last year — just as it is in the U.S. — an anomaly given that Brazilian jobs and incomes are growing.

Analysts such as Fernandes of Booz Allen theorize that Brazilians emerging from poverty are using their additional cash to first buy such things as long-coveted appliances before spending on entertainment.

Movie makers and theater owners are also up against formidable competition in Brazilian television, particularly the powerhouse TV Globo network, which with its string of popular telenovelas dominates local airwaves.

An indication of that dominance lies in statistics that show free broadcast TV has a 59% share of total Brazilian advertising dollars, according to Booz Allen, higher than the 50% share in Mexico and 25% in the United States.

TV Globo, which claims to be the fourth-largest global network after NBC, ABC and CBS, has a 50% share of the overall audience, said the channel’s marketing director, Anco Mario Saraiva.

While theater admissions shrink, Brazilians’ purchases of personal computers have soared, which leads analysts to think that more movie buffs are watching DVDs at home, much like their U.S. counterparts.

Stay-at-home entertainment trends won’t be easy for movie producers and theater owners to overcome. “Internet use is what’s growing fast, much faster than movie ticket sales,” said Booz Allen’s Fernandes. “Movie trends will change, but slowly.”

Special correspondent Belisa Figueiro in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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