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How Is Brazilian Cinema Today? Understanding How It’s Currently Like to Make A Film In Brazil

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The article below was written by Manuela Massera and edited by Carolina Azevedo. Liked this type of content? Check out Her Campus Cásper Líbero for more!

From “City of God ” to “Bacurau ”, Brazil has made a lot of great movies, but getting the project done may not be easy in the country. 

As a third world country with little resources, being a filmmaker can be difficult in Brazil. To get things done, directors and producers rely on money from different government programs, and that is not always easy or fast to get. Brazil has a lot of projects to encourage and help filmmakers make their projects. The biggest of them is “Ancine” which translates to: National Agency of Cinema. Ancine works nationwide and helped some of the biggest movies throughout the country to get done. To get the money you need to submit the movie through a production company, and it’s possible to receive money to make the film, to promote it, or both. But, nowadays, this agency is in a crisis, the president wants to put an end to it, and some movies are even getting censored. 

The best and latest example of it is the movie Marighella, which tells the story of a man who fought the Brazilian dictatorship and got killed for it. Brazilian president, Bolsonaro, is known for defending the dictatorship and worshiping the dictators, so it’s very weird if this is all a coincidence. The story is: O2, company that produced the movie, asked Ancine to compensate the 1 million reais that were invested in the movie, which they should receive because they already had a partnership, but Ancine denied it because, according to them, the production company didn´t finish in time one of the movies that received money from the agency, and they didn’t pay what they should, leaving a debt. 

However, according to Wagner Moura, director of the movie, O2 paid everything they should, plus the incident happened in November, while the request from Marighella was done in August. Regardless, this whole process is very common, and the movie’s staff did not expect it to be denied.  Moura has declared that this is an episode of censorship, and that not only was Marighella affected, but all of Brazilian culture. This whole episode caused the delay of the movie’s premiere in Brazil, and it wasn’t able to come out in any country after that, because it needed to premiere here first. 

Furthermore, when the news of the denial came out, one of Bolsonaro’s sons, a city councilor, celebrated what happened and said that it had avoided a waste of the government money. Marighella had premiered on festivals all over the world except in the country it was filmed in. Before all of this had happened two brazilian movies had won awards at Cannes Film Festival, two films that were done with the support of Ancine, and also the main actor of Marighella, Seu Jorge, won his first award for best acting for this movie. This is proof that the sponsorship programs work, and can bring great results. 

But, Brazil has other projects that filmmakers can count on, a good example is Proac, a local project that attends the state of São Paulo. It works the same way as Ancine: giving money to make movies. However, unlike the nationwide project, it has some lists that you can submit your movie to, and maybe you´ll win. 

Proac does a very decent job, and who says that is Íris Chadi, a beginning director and writer, who gave us an interview and complimented the program: “In my experience, the government of São Paulo’s state and city initiatives are a lot more prosperous than the ones made from Ancine.” This type of program does much more than just give money, they give chances and opportunities, and most importantly, visibility, as Íris said: “When you receive Proac’s help you win some money that won’t be enough to make the movie, but the production companies will keep an eye o those who win the help, and then a producer can come on board and give more money.” Chadi had only one complaint about this program: “Proac has a lot of complicated procedures for you to be able to submit your movie, and some people are specialists on these submissions. It’s so complicated that people hire professionals to do it. It needs to have the right words and communicate your project the right way.” 

One of the main ways to analyze the culture in a country is to see how many people go to the movies. In Brazil there is a big problem involving this because in recent years the tickets for the movies have been increasing in price, making it too expensive for people with less money. And especially Brazilian movies, when talking about films that can improve the industry, the only people who go to watch this type of movie are those who are interested in cinema. Because of that, most of the movies made in the country are comedies, which attracts more people to the movies. 

This is also a problem with the government incentives, as Íris said: “within the money destined to this, there are more movies of great appeal to the public, and the independent films end up not receiving it”. In addition, she also talked about how to make Brazilian productions better and with more investment: “To improve these productions more public is needed, with a major variety, not only comedies. The best way to do this is by including Brazilian movies such as Central Station at school, so kids can have access to it from an early age”.

However, a great way to get more citizens to go to the movies are Film Festivals. There are some of those in Brazil, and they happen all over the country, but the most famous one is the São Paulo International Film festival. It brings a lot of movies from other countries too and calls foreigners to pay attention to Brazilian movies because some of the actors and directors come to the festival. But, those events are not well promoted and only attract those who already like those types of movies. Chadi also commented about this: “They do an amazing promoting job. The problem is that it does not reach the people. The only ones that go to this event are people that already like it.”

Those festivals are a great way of bringing more people to the movies because they offer a lot of movie sessions with very low prices, and even for free, that way people with a minor income can go and appreciate the art. If promoted better, these events can reach a lot more people, and show everyone how great Brazilian cinema is. 

Another way to reach people with movies is through streaming. Most of them are starting just now in Brazil, but Netflix has been here for a while now. The company is known for producing content in a lot of different countries, and, when talking about Brazilian cinema, Netflix has done some great productions, such as the Oscar-nominated The edge of democracy and the new 7 prisoners. But, these two are rare non-comedy titles from Netflix-produced movies in Brazil, since most of their productions, as all the Brazilian film industry, are comedies. 

However, this continues to be a great way to show Brazilian productions to the world, since the platform has a lot of other Brazilian movies that can be available worldwide. Streaming can be a good opportunity for independent artists as Chadi said: “Streamings are a really nice possibility for independent writers, they offer a less bureaucratic way for them to make movies. They can boost more independent productions, but the big streamings continue to have a more mainstream-oriented production. That’s an interesting way to leave the movies there for a while. They help to encourage domestic production, as it is another company and also take the films to other countries, which brings a good perspective”

The biggest problem of the Brazilian cinema industry nowadays is the lack of incentive by both parties, the government, and the private initiative. The first one, because of the bad management, and the second one for just giving a chance to the more attractive movies, and not putting smaller productions on in theaters, and when they do, it is just at some theaters and not many sessions. Brazilian filmmakers are able to make great movies that even got to the Oscars with little resources. Imagine what they would do if they got big investments.  

References:

https://noticias.uol.com.br/colunas/leonardo-sakamoto/2020/01/14/marighella-nao-e-caso-isolado-cultura-esta-sob-censura-diz-wagner-moura.htm

https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/seminariosfolha/2019/08/entenda-como-o-cinema-brasileiro-vem-sendo-financiado-ate-agora.shtml

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Manuela Massera

Casper Libero '24

A journalism student obsessed with books and films. Always on twitter and listening to 80´s music.
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