The Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival Brings Indie Productions to the U.S.

9:53 AM PST 06/07/2012 by Paula Zulian

The fourth annual edition takes place at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood through June 10.

The Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival is a dream come true for many Brazilian filmmakers who walked the red carpet on Wednesday night.

The festival’s goal is to present independent Brazilian films to industry leaders and audiences in an effort to introduce projects not previously available in the U.S. -- and hopefully, launch international careers.

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This year, the festival programmed 24 films divided in three showcases: fiction, documentaries and shorts.

The opening night film was Heleno, starring 300’s Rodrigo Santoro and directed by Jose Henrique Fonseca. The film was recently sold to Screen Media and is scheduled for U.S. distribution in September.

Talize Sayegh, the founder and executive producer of the festival, is thrilled to share Brazilian culture with Hollywood.

“We are bringing to Los Angeles five days of free cinema, spreading cultural awareness and building bridges between Brazil and the American film community,” said Sayegh.

Sayegh, who is also producer of the Los Angeles Latino International Festival, has more than 20 years of experience in film. Sayegh -- who previously worked for the Rio Film Festival -- tells THR that it was her dream to create a festival in Los Angeles focused only on Brazilian films.

“I feel that Brazilian films were always behind if compared to other Latino movies. So I wanted to break that barrier and bring it to the spotlight,” she said.

The films screened at the festival were chosen by the artistic director Sandro Fiorin, who scours festivals around the world (such as Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam and Toronto) to pick films for the lineup. Fiorin has been working with Latino films for a long time and agrees that Brazilian cinema needed to have more space in the movie capital of the world.

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According to Fiorin, the 2011 opening film Craft (Riscado) was picked up for U.S. distribution after it was shown at the HBFF.

“My dream is to have a film opening the festival (with) its director launching his career internationally,” said Sayegh. “I want to show people ... that our country is not only samba and carnaval, but culture as well."

This year’s guest of honor is producer Sara Silveira, who has two films screening at the fest, Swirl (Girimunho) and Hard Labor (Trabalhar Cansa). Silveira was thrilled when she took the stage to accept an award for her contributions to the Brazilian film industry. “Brazil is trending now and people want to see more of our country,” said Silveira.

The film Hard Labor is directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas, and will be the first film to screen on Thursday at 8 p.m. The psychological thriller, which had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival in 2011 and won a grand coral prize at the Havana film festival, shows the tension when a husband loses his job and his housewife pursues her dream to open her own neighborhood grocery store. 

The other film Silveira produced, Swirl, is directed by Clarissa Campolina and Helvecio Marins and screens Friday at 9 p.m. The drama was produced in Brazil, Germany and Spain and had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year. The film tells the story of an 81-year-old woman who lives in a small village and loves to dance. After her husband dies, she is forced to rethink her life and routine.

The closing film, Rat Fever, is schedule for Sunday 9 p.m. It's directed by Claudio Assis, and previously won a prize for best film at Paulinia Film Festival in Sao Paulo.

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