Brazil brings carnaval to Berlinale


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BERLIN -- Brazil is in celebration mode at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

National film organization Cinema do Brazil, which threw a festive cocktail party Tuesday night complete with caipirinhias and canapes, is in town supporting 25-plus production companies and promoting six Brazilian films in official selection.

Beyond the high-profile "Elite Squad," which unspooled Monday in competition, "Another Love Story" by Lucia Murat is playing in Panorama; "Estomago -- A Gastronomic Story" by Marcos Jorge is playing in the Eat, Drink, See Movies: Celebrating Culinary Cinema section; "Os famosos e os Duendes da Morte" will unspool in the Festival Business Forum; and "Mutum" by Sandra Kogut, and "City of Men" by Paulo Morelli are both screening in Generation 14Plus. And there are also three short films competing in the Short Competition.

Meanwhile, a number of recent Brazilian hits also are playing in the market.

According to Cinema do Brazil's director Andre Sturm, about 90 feature films are made each year in Brazil which offers around $75 million in public film subsidies.

Although there are no tax breaks available, foreign producers can access public funding if they enter into a co-production with a Brazilian film company.

Still, despite success abroad with such recent hits as "City of God" and "Central Station," Brazilian cinema is facing some problems at home.

"One of the issues with Brazilian cinema is that there are too many films focusing on problems," Sturm said. "Around 60% to 70% can be considered to do this, and it means that nobody wants to see the films."

Still, some films have bucked the trend. Based on a TV sitcom, the comedy "Big Family" took the second spot at the boxoffice last year.

"My Name Is Not Johnny," a comedy about a drug dealer has notched up some 1.5 million admissions this year.

"We create the conditions, support people coming here, provide the space, and then they do the rest," Strum said. "From what I'm hearing, things are going really well here for a number of companies, and a number of deals and new co-productions should close by the end of the market."