Brazil’s on fire, and rapidly putting into place the policies that will rebuild its film and TV industries, which look set to transform it into the film-TV powerhouse of Latin America.
That cuts several ways.
Under Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian president over 2019-2022, ApexBrasil, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Agency, saw its funding for Brazil’s audiovisual sector almost entirely nixed.
Often working together, promotion agency Cinema do Brasil, backed by Audiovisual Industry Syndicate of the State of São Paulo (SIESP), Projeto Paradiso, a philanthropic org focusing on new talent and project development, and SP Cine, the energetic São Paulo City film commission, did an extraordinary job to support and promote Brazilian filmmakers and companies’ presence at festivals, drawing on highly contained resources.
That was then. “When President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office [on Jan. 1] and appointed new ApexBrasil head Jorge Viana, who is highly supportive of the creative industries, we were instructed to renew partnerships, and the first we have pursued is with Cinema do Brasil,” Ana Paula Repezza, business director of ApexBrasil, told Variety at Cannes.
One instruction given by Lula when it came to foreign affairs in general was to focus on Brazil’s priority markets, Latin America and Africa. Another priority, given by Lula to all his government, is to “foster regional development inside Brazil.” This means bringing in more producers from Brazil’s Amazon and Northeast states on promotion initiatives, showcasing their films at events, and opening up the possibilities of co-production, said Repezza.
ApexBrasil is implementing “performance indicators” for partnerships, registering involvement of companies or producers from the North, Northeast and Black people and LGBTQ and female producers, she added.
The ApexBrasil journey, as she put it, “begins with understanding what are the priority markets, understanding and designing together, defining together what are the strategies for each of those markets, implementing capacity building programs.”
“Together” is a mantra. A joyous and bullish Marché du Film panel took place on May 18, New Perspectives and Opportunities for Film in Brazil, hosted by Spcine and attended by many of the major stakeholders determining public sector policy for film and TV in Brazil, led by Joelma Gonzaga, Brazilian Audiovisual Secretary.
One major takeaway was unity and collaboration between governmental agencies.
“Since the start of this new government, there was a clear message: “Brazil is back. And the motto for this administration is uniting and rebuilding,” said Adam Jayme Muniz, head of the Division for Actions Promoting Brazilian Culture at the Guimarães Rosa Institute/Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The agencies have created an informal work group, having regular meetings, with WhatsApp groups. “We exchange information on a daily basis,” Muniz added.
The Brazilian government is looking to double its co-production partner countries around the world, Muniz noted.
Currently, Brazil holds down 12 bilateral agreements, and a multilateral pact with 10 countries in Latin America. To facilitate his task, Muniz will be shortly relocating to London.
One focus is Africa. “We are starting talks on a multilateral agreement with all Portuguese-speaking countries. That’s very strategic for Brazil,” Muniz said. “Brazil has 200 million-210 million inhabitants and is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world but that reality will change in a way by 2050 when there will be more Portuguese-speaking nationals in Africa,” he added.
In April, Margareth Menezes, Brazil’s Ministry of Culture, donated €1 million ($1.1 million) to the audiovisual program of the nine Portuguese-language countries joined in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), aimed primarily at bolstering the industry in Africa.
Co-production is another strategic interest. In 2022, Ancine, Brazil’s public film-TV agency which has been a major driver for the sectors, has already plowed €14 million ($15.3 million) into majority and minority film co-productions, said Daniel Tonacci, Ancine co-ordinator of International Programs.
Brazil and Portugal have established a joint co-production fund. Other potential countries for co-production funds are Uruguay and Argentina, he added.
Ancine is co-developing a mobility scheme to support directors and producers to attend international events, Tonucci added.
Details, as in so much regarding Brazilian public sector policies, will be clearer shortly. Brazil is moving quickly to shape a new film-TV world.