The Brazilian selections at the international film festivals in Rio and Sao Paulo are a good barometer of the hot new local projects. Jose Padilha's Elite Squad opened last year's Rio film festival and went on to win the Golden Bear at Berlin.
This year sees Bruno Barreto's Last Stop 174 take the opening slot at Riofollowing its world premiere earlier this month in Toronto. It is a fictionalised account of the real-life hijacking of a bus in Rio, already the subject of Padilha's well-received documentary Bus 174. Click here to see Screen review.
'We shine a special light on Brazilian production,' says Ilda Santiago, director of the Rio International Film Festival.
Three world premieres of local films will compete in the Premiere Brasil section of the festival: Matheus Souza's romantic drama Apenas O Fim, Jose Eduardo Belmonte's Se Nada Mais Der Certo, which follows the struggles of a young journalist, and Mauricio Farias' Veronica, the story of a teacher who helps a child get out of the drug-trafficking business in the favelas of Rio.
'We try to cover the diversity of Brazilian cinema by presenting a huge number of films from directors who have made it abroad, alongside those who are yet to make it. We are very proud to introduce directors to the international industry here in Rio,' says Santiago.
The festival has supported several film-makers over the years, including Beto Brant, Tata Amaral, Karim Ainouz, Sergio Machado, Marcelo Gomes, Cao Hamburger, Jorge Duran, Chico Teixeira, Sandra Kogut and Lais Bodanski.
The Rio festival has a strong industry section, Rio Market, with seminars, film-maker masterclasses and networking events. The market is used by distributors, including the US studios, to launch films into the Brazilian market, while international sales companies attend in the hope of sealing outstanding deals with Brazilian buyers. Films screening this year include Selton Mello's drama Feliz Natal, and Guilherme de Almeida Prado's mystery-adventure, Onde Andara Dulce Veiga'
'We expect about 100 guests from all over the world for the panels, the business meetings and screenings,' says market director Walkiria Barbosa.
'The Rio Market offers us a great opportunity to experience the perspective of a completely different group of people,' says Howard Kiedaisch, CEO of the UK-based Arts Alliance Media, who plans to attend the market this year.
Many of the Brazilian films at Rio go on to screen at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival (Oct 17-30).
Like Rio, Sao Paulo dedicates a strand to showcasing local films, Mostra Brasil. 'In the New Filmmakers competition section, we have also always included Brazilian films, because we believe they can compete with films of any other nationality, as in other festivals,' says Renata de Almeida, who runs the festival with Leon Cakoff.
This year's line-up will also include Barreto's Last Stop 174.