Brazilian flavoured cinema

Popcorn and guaraná: Brazilian film showcase wants to charm Canadian taste.

By Fátima Mesquita

The year of 2007 likely to make history in the Brazilian community in of Canada because it is going to be the year that the first Brazilian Film Showcase will be launched in this country. In December, when the cold is just knocking on our doors, Toronto and Montreal are to experience a rise in temperatures from the promising exhibition of over ten good titles from our movie industry, together with a lot of buzz with the special guests of the event, as some Brazilian directors, producers, actors and technicians are expected to participate. This pioneering initiative comes from the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto, and is being organized by the non-profit organization Jangada, who have been making history in Paris by means of a yearly Brazilian Film Festival. Brazilian Wave discussed the events of Paris, Montreal and Toronto with the filmmaker, cultural activist and founder of Jangada, Kátia Adler.

 How did you happen to settle in France, and how did you get involved with the creation of the now traditional Brazilian Film Festival of Paris?
Kátia Adler – I am from Rio de Janeiro and arrived in France in 1984, where I took the film course at Paris 8 University. When I finished it, I directed short films. My first one was Sem Cor, a Brazil-France co-production. Then I ended up working a lot on French television. The festival came up when I felt too apart from my own country. I felt, then, the need to stand up for Brazilian films. Maybe it was a way to come back to my roots slightly.

 Today the Festival of Paris is already in its tenth year. How was the growing up process? What were the festival achievements?
Kátia Adler – The Festival in Paris started very small, but its evolution is remarkable, both in terms of audience and number and importance of the professionals who come from Brazil for it. Last year, more than 20 people came from Brazil to support their movies. Because our aim is to promote Brazilian films and, in the process, also get them into the French market. And every year the festival succeeds in selling our films to French distributors. We always work with a recent film selection, whatever is the newest in the Brazilian movie industry. There are about ten competing films, having a French professional jury to choose the “best film”. In addition, the Parisian audience also elects their “best film”. The award is a bronze jangada-shaped trophy.

 The NGO Jangada is the organization that runs the Parisian event, and will be in charge of the Canadian one. It’s a non-profit organization, which is under your direction. How was Jangada born and what are the activities it has been developing?
Kátia Adler – Jangada was created by me and some friends to show to French people another Brazil, to show them a different country from what was seen on TV. Jangada started very small, organizing events at city halls. We have also worked for French companies, and today our biggest event is the Paris Festival. But Jangada organizes other cultural events as well. For five years, we organized the Brazillian Music Festival together with the 3rd arrondissement in Paris. Or, for instance, an exhibition of works by the artist Fayga Ostrower. I also organized, for two years, the Brazilian Film Festival in Tunis, which was a great success. We organized the same kind of festival in French Guyana. And these days, during the Ouro Preto Winter Festival (MG/Brazil), I was invited to be the curator of their Brazilian Documentaries Exhibition and to participate in a panel about the situation of the industry in Brazil.

Now, based on the successful experience of the Parisian festival, you are here to shake Canada. How did the idea come us?
Kátia Adler – Last year, during the Toronto International Film Festival, Sabrina Nudelman, from the Brazilian film distributor Elo Audiovisual, suggested the creation of a Brazilian Film Showcase in Canada to Aldemo Garcia, Vice-Council at the Brazilian Consulate in Toronto. Aldemo thought it an excellent idea and started to work on it. Sabrina suggested that I could be the event producer because of the experience I’ve gathered in this field. Aldemo invited me to work with him and, since then, we have this partnership together with some Brazilian companies and our country’s government. Our purpose, in this first year is to showcase the great Brazilian films. But we are also going to have business meetings between Brazilians and Canadians, in an attempt to open new doors for co-productions.

 Although it’s not the eve of the event, is it already possible to talk about dates, locations and list of films to be shown?
Kátia Adler – We have already chosen dates and locations. The Showcase is to happen in Toronto, at the Rotunda room in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), from the 7th to the 10th of December, and, in Montreal, from the 14th to the 20th of December at the Cinéma Du Parc. It is difficult to announce the titles now because we are still in the process of invitations, but maybe we can talk about Encontro com Milton Santos, a documentary directed by Sílvio Tender and Antônia, a feature directed by Tata Amaral. For the same reason, we don’t have the names of the coming actors, directors and technicians yet, but we expect to count on something between five and ten guests from Brazil.

 The Paris Festival has been helping to break the isolation of Brazilian movies. Which films have been negotiated in Europe as a result of the event?
Kátia Adler – As a result of the Festival in Paris, many films have already been sold and either gone into the circuit of movie theatres in France or to the French television. Some examples are Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos, Janela da Alma, Desmundo and, at the last festival, the documentary Vinicius. And I am positive that this successful experience can be repeated in Canada.

 Some months ago, you visited Toronto and Montreal. What do you think of the country, of those cities and of the Brazilian community living in those locations?
Kátia Adler – I loved Canada, I loved the people, it is a good mix… The Canadians are extremely friendly. I’ve had little contact with the Brazilian community, but hope to meet them at the event. I am sure that the Brazilians living in Canada will be happy with this kind of event. It is going to be a good occasion for a community gathering, exactly as it is in Paris, and it is also going to be a place where Canadians will be able to discover our films and our culture. Brazilian films are multicoloured. We have many trends, and the movies translate our everyday life, our restlessness, our searches, our history. And since we have many “Brazils”, we make films that are different, in different regions of the country. Production today is of 50 full length films a year, and this number is growing year by year. See the example of O ano que meus pais saíram de férias. It was in competition at the Berlin Festival. Since Central do Brasil, the last Brazilian movie to receive an award at the Berlin Festival, there have been no other representatives of the Brazilian film industry at such an important event. At Cannes Festival, Mutum, which is the first full length feature directed Sandra Kogut, closed the Quinzaine dês Réalizateurs. That means that we are, little by little, gaining the international market.

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