Brazilian producers are struggling to find ways to make the national audiovisual industry paralyzed by funding that froze after the increasing number of Covid-19 has further compounded the problem.
When the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed the country and threw the destroyed Brazilian film industry into deeper chaos after the national film agency Ancine stopped funding in January 2019, the ongoing health crisis frightened international partners.
“Before the pandemic starts, it’s easy to find international production companies that are interested in our projects in development,” said Beto Amaral, producer of the Daniela Thomas films, whose selection is the Berlinale 2017 Leak is a joint production with Portugal.
“Now we are waiting,” added Amaral, who is looking for European companies to jointly produce the next Thomas film, Manu, budgeted for $ 900,000. So far the producer has only earned $ 45,000 to tell the story of corruption in the Brazilian political system seen through the eyes of a teenager.
According to estimates from the audiovisual sector, between 400 to 600 Brazilian films and TV projects are stalled, awaiting the release of funds. There has been practically no shooting in the last 12 months, except for Susana Garcia My mother is One Piece 3 (My Mom Is A Character 3).
The third part in the successful franchise, which together earned $ 68 million (BRL 350 million) at the box office, was co-produced by Midgal Filmes, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Globo Filmes.
“In the case of auteur films, they are on the verge of death without a new incentive policy,” said Andrea Barata Ribeiro, partner in O2 Film Fernando Meirelles. “Manufacturers who have projects planned in 2018 have not received anything.
With several projects affected, such as thriller Pssica, the film debuted by Quico Meirelles, son of Fernando Meirelles, O2 survived by making series for various platforms and advertising campaigns.
“The destruction of small producers has occurred. Twenty years of incentives for the audiovisual industry are being thrown away. There is a clear desire to dismantle culture. The current government is against free culture, “Ribeiro said, referring to the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro.
Ancine did not respond ScreenRequest for comment, but the agency attributes the operational collapse to accounting errors, which will make Ancine unable to respect the project under consideration. Despite having made an investment commitment of 185m (BRL 944m), financial resources from the Audiovisual Fund (FSA) Sector only amounted to $ 144m (BRL 738m).
Withdrawing money from abroad can save local producers. In the case of the city of Sao Paulo, the idea is to offer a cash rebate policy for international production, which needs to be linked to Brazilian companies.
Until the end of the year, registration will be open to programs designed to attract projects with a minimum local expenditure of $ 392,000 (BRL 2m). Producers will be compensated between 20% -30% of the total amount spent in feature films, animations, series and ad campaigns taken in whole or in part in Sao Paulo.
Last year, the city held 1,077 production from other states and other countries, which generated more than 25 million jobs and $ 110 million (BRL 561 million) in the stated budget.
With Covid-19 infection rates soaring throughout Brazil, the question is whether Sao Paulo can expect international producers to travel after the mismanagement of the Bolsonaro government in tackling the health crisis has damaged the country’s reputation.
“There is no doubt about the international impact caused by the current situation in Brazil,” said filmmaker Lais Bodanzky, president of Spcine, a company created in 2013 to develop and implement a public audiovisual policy for the city. “Therefore, we clarify that the city of Sao Paulo has a special reality, not in accordance with the speech of the federal government.”
Apart from Bolsonaro’s government guidelines, every state in Brazil has autonomy in terms of health protocols, including decisions about mandatory quarantine.
At present the city of Sao Paulo is preparing to enter the so-called “green phase” of the reopening program. Among the criteria for the transition from yellow to green is that the occupancy rate of hospital beds must drop below 60%
After reopening restaurants, bars, fitness centers and hair salons in the city, the cinema will follow. Reopening is scheduled for August 13, even though the film has not been selected or announced.
“The idea is to test the water with small films from local independent distributors,” said Paulo Sergio Almeida, director of Filme B, a local theater tracking company that compiles numbers.
There are about 40 Brazilian films ready that could be part of the new programming. Among them was Julia Rezende Then I’m Crazy (Losing my kelengkengku, in the photo), Rene Sampaio Eduardo e Monica, Halder Gomes’ Plague of goats, Belonging to Marcos Prado Horrible, and Pedro Peregrino Suspect.
But Almeida doesn’t know whether these films are suitable given the crisis facing the industry. “It needs to be something with real market power,” he said, “because viewers will not risk their lives or spend money without being convinced that they really can’t miss the film in the cinema.”
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