Brazil: Recession & Crisis


 by Sérvulo Siqueira


In this country, where Hollywood is also the brand-name of the most popular cigarettes, the Brazilian cinema is in a state of crisis. During the first three months of 1983 — only 29 million spectators bought tickets to films, with one third of them going to the nationally produced features.

The economic recession, in which the country is now deeply immersed, doesn't stimulate many investments, especially those concerning independent filmmaking activity.

With Embrafilme and the foreign cinema controlling almost the entire film area, some independent executives are looking for alternatives to the continuity of the filmmaking work, including the less risky venture of making low standard movies.

Mariza Leão (Morena Filmes) producer of The Dream Is Not Over, directed by Sérgio Rezende, has just completed the production of "We Have Never Been So Happy," directed by Murilo Salles. She notes that "70% of the economic activity is dependent upon the State in Brazil. If the Federal Government does not continue to participate at the same level as it has done in the past the independent film producers want more incentives to put private capital into the movie business."

The desired incentives go from the reduction of high taxes applied by the State on imported negatives, tapes, technical equipment, to a new legislation that could increase the entering of other investors into the Brazilian cinema. Leão proposes that federal censorship should allow the movie community more "freedom of creation in the production of films."

Morena Filmes basically operates with money advanced by Embrafilme when that state-controlled organization approves the project. Mariza Leão  informs that in case Embrafilme reduces its aid, the Brazilian cinema will have to reduce its costs of production and decrease the artistic and cultural quality of its products.

Morena Filmes has just set up, in conjunction with seven other companies, the Brazilian Pictures Export - CBPE - a consortium which unites some of the leading film producers in the country and is aimed at promoting national films on the foreign market. Its first step was to create facilities for the buyers and to provide information on production in stock, films under way and box-office results on both the Brazilian and overseas market.

The consortium, in addition to Morena Filmes, consists of CPC Filmes, Hector Babenco Filmes, Morena Producers of Art, and L.C. Barreto Cinematographic Prods., among others. The group is working on establishing relationships with Brazilian banks which operate overseas to persuade them for the creation of lines of credit for film importers. Morena Filmes' current lineup (with financial support by Embrafilme) is "Evenings," based on a novel by Érico Veríssimo. The film, to be directed by Gilberto Loureiro, will be followed by "High Walls," directed by Luís Fernando Goulart.

Not far from Morena's offices, still in the same neighborhood of Botafogo, where most of the film producers based in this city are presently established, lies the Skylight Cinema. Its partners are Uberto Molo and Bruno Stroppiana, two Italian-born filmmakers who have worked in Brazil since 1974.

  Stroppiana believes that the time has come for associations with some foreign investors, pointing to the film "Quilombo," a huge (for Brazilian standards) Embrafilme-Gaumont co-production of almost US$2 million. The film began principal photography this July.

Having participated with its technical equipment in many joint-ventures, Skylight cinema has just put together a new association; a joint-venture between Skylight and Caribe Filmes. The two will unite to build a more sophisticated sound studio in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Explained Stroppiana: "We firmly support the politics of co-productions among different filmmakers, but in our case we participate with what we have: cameras, lighting, editing tables, sound facilities and mechanical equipment."

Over the last few years, Skylight Cinema has been involved in the making of several pictures. Included are "Raoni" (nominated for the Oscar in 1977) and "Luz del Fuego," exhibited at Filmex this year. During the first six months of 1983, the company has already shared the production of more than a half dozen features. One of them, "Paraiba-Woman Male," was recently awarded with prizes for best actress for Tânia Alves and best director for Tizuka Yamazaki at the Cartagena Film Festival.

Just released two months ago, and already one of the hits here this year, "Bar Hope — The Last to Close," directed by Hugo Carvana, is another Skylight coproduction. "As Impossible As It Seems" is another full Skylight production, currently in principal photography on a budget of US$600,000. Scripted and directed by Stroppiana's partner, Uberto Molo, the film is expected to open in the Brazilian theatres by the end of the year.


Publicada no The Hollywood Reporter, em 9 de agosto de 1983