Rat Fever, A Love Story, Bertsolari among other winners at the Brazilian festival.

Violeta went to Heaven, the Chilean feature directed by Andres Wood swept the floor at the 22nd Fortaleza Iberoamerican Film festival in northeastern Brazil (Ceara state) by winning three main awards: A golden Mucuripe and $10,000 for best film; best screenplay for Wood, Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderon; and best editing for Andrea Chignoli. The film will be released in Brazil theatrically in 12 prints by Imovision on June 22.

The film about Chilean singer Violeta Parra won a grand jury prize at Sundance. Latido handles sales.

Taking two prizes (best director and original music) was Rat Fever (Febre de rato), a Brazlian film about a young iconoclast poet directed by Claudio Assis. Imovision handles international sales.

Other prizes included best actor to the Argentinian Luis Ziembrowski in A Love Story (Un amor), Paula Hernandez’s love triangle; and best actress to Brazilian Graziela Felix in Roberta Marques’ coming-of-age story Rania.

The Spanish feature documentary Bertsolari, a portrait of a Basque country tradition based on oral improvisation, won best photography for Gaizka Bourgeaud. The Mexican debut film Expiry Date (Fecha de caducidad) by Kenya Marquez received the best sound award for Nerio Barberis and Santiago Arroyo as well as the film critics award worth $5,000. Finally Juan Carlos Acevedo was awarded for best art direction for Ecuador’s In the Name of the Daughter (En el nombre de la hija) by Tania Hermida.

The international jury was headed by Peruvian film director Alberto-Chicho-Durant and among its members were the Brazilian film critic Ana Maria Bahiana, the Dutch festival organiser and scholar Irma Dulmers and the Uruguayan producer, DOP and scholar Nelson Wainstein.

Homages organised to salute prominent figures of the local film industry in their presence included those to the legendary film producing couple Luiz Carlos and Lucy Barreto (working for more than 50 years), the acclaimed film maker Fernando Meirelles, the popular star Marco Nanini and the Fortaleza film scene related personality Jesualdo Perreira.

Meirelles, invited to attend a conference and a workshop on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his City of God that launched his international career.

Standing out among the side sections was the one dedicated to a selection of documentaries on the subject of social struggles in Latin America put together by Argentinian film critic Oscar Ranzani. Heading the section, polarizing the attention of critics and public was It’s All True, the feature three-parts documentary directed by Orson Welles in his baroque, powerful style here in Fortaleza, Rio and Mexico in 1942, produced by RKO. The negative of the film went missing when RKO cancelled the financing and the shooting was interrupted. The material surfaced back in 1993 and a version of the documentary was put together by Bill Krohn, Myron, Meise, Richard Wilson, Norman Foster and Fortaleza native film makers, among them the president of the festival Wolney Oliveira.

Other side events included a presentation of films by and a workshop on Alfred Hitchcock, workshops for young actors and special screenings for hearing and seeing disabled persons.

The abundance of Brazilian-produced films, notably in the short films competition section-Golden Mucuripe for best film to By the Street (Os lados da rua) by Diego Zon-running alongside the local and Iberoamerican ones reserved to fiction features, all sections programmed by the festival artistic director Margarita Hernandez and program consultant Alfredo Calvino (Latinofusion), offered solid proof of the ongoing expansion of the film production sector backed by state institutions such as the giant oil company Petrobras and the ministy of culture.

Luiz Carlos, Lucy Barreto and Bernardini noted to Screen the contradiction between the funds made available to the audiovisual sector by federal entities and the difficulties Brazilian and foreign independent and auteur fare have to secure sustained exhibition slots in a country that, in spite of its huge, nearly 200million population, has no more than 2,400 screens.

According to Barreto, a two-month-old law has the Fund for the Audiovisual Sector (FSA) pumping together with other federal and state entities no less than $750,000 yearly into production, distribution and exhibition. In spite of that kind of support, exhibition is dominated by foreign exhibitors that favour commercial fare, a situation expected to worsen following the announcement this week that Warner and Fox join forces here in the marketing and distribution sectors.

The Barretos’ recent move to acquire together with five private producers under the Mutiro banner a 30% stake in 40 theaters of the Ademar Oliveira’s thriving 100 theaters-strong nation wide chain Cine Artplex may partially help opening space for local and foreign independent fare. To further consolidate this initiative the Barretos eye a further 40% share in the rest 60 Cine Artplex theaters.

The festivals also benefit from the funds bonanza and the sustained growth of the local economy. Festival subsidies come directly from the culture ministry. Fortaleza has a $1m budget coming from the ministry, Petrobras and a development bank of the Ceara state.

The festival forms together with Rio, Sao Paulo , Recife , Gramado and all recently Brazilia a select group of film events of its kind in a country that boasts no less than 100 film festivals according to artistic director Margarita Hernandez.

Further expansion of the tightly run and efficiently organized Fortaleza event should be accompanied by a program policy consolidation, the introduction, apart from the Portuguese, of at least one more language, most likely English, in its programmes and activities and the presence of more foreign guests, in the areas of acquisition, distribution and press.