Made in Brazil


As Brazilian cinema and TV gains wider appeal abroad, foreign production companies are showing growing interest in partnering with domestic shingles there.

Brazil's audiovisual law allows producers to invest 3% of their owed income tax toward a local project. Additionally, foreign producers and distributors who export content from Brazil can redirect up to 70% of the withholding tax for investment in a Brazilian production. Hollywood majors in Brazil regularly contribute to the local film industry using this money. A recent addition to the audiovisual law extends financing mechanisms to independent television producers.

Brazilian production is receiving an additional boost to the tune of $32 million this year with the implementation of an audiovisual sector fund. It will contribute an estimated $15 million-$20 million each year to the development of the Brazilian audiovisual industry.

The Brazilian film industry churns out about 70-80 features a year, giving it significantly more experience than some of the smaller South American nations that produce about a dozen pictures annually. Recent foreign shoots include last year's Brazil-Canada-Japan co-production "Blindness," the Brazil-Italy feature "Birdwatchers" and "The Incredible Hulk."

Hosting about 20 co-productions a year, Brazil has agreements with more than a dozen countries, including Canada, France and a recent pact signed with India. State financing agency Ancine oversees film funding, while Cinema do Brazil looks after the export biz. Considerable financial support for production also comes from development bank BNDES and oil giant Petrobras.

As production output rises, so too has the quality of the films made in Brazil. "Blindness" grabbed the opening-night slot at last year's Festival de Cannes, while "Linha de Passe," a Brazil-France co-production, competed in the official section. Last year, Jose Padilha's police drama "The Elite Squad" won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In television, several foreign companies have teamed with Brazilian partners in recent years. HBO Latin America co-produced "Mandrake"with Conspiracao Filmes, and it later worked with director Fernando Meirelles' O2 Filmes on "Sons of Carnival." On both projects, HBO tapped into a local production fund created by tax payments from foreign pay TV programrs.

Fox International Channels also entered Brazil last year with its first Portuguese-language production, the police drama series "9mm: Sao Paulo." Brazil's Moonshot Pictures produced.

TV Globo, Brazil's top television network, is doing a remake of its widely successful telenovela "The Clone" with Telemundo. The new production, set to begin this year, targets the U.S. Hispanic audience.

Globo is in talks with potential partners in the U.S., Mexico and Portugal as it looks to step up international co-productions.

"We are not just interested in selling the format," Globo international sales director Raphael

Correa says. "We feel we should participate in the chain of value of production and naturally we have a lot of interest from producers and distributors outside Brazil."