Paramount Pictures announced today a two-picture co-production deal with Jose Padilha and Marcos Prado`s film company Zazen Produções.

Signed during Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, the deal includes Nunca Antes Na Historia Deste Pais, the new feature film by Padilha, who won the Golden Bear in Berlin this year with Elite Squad which was also distributed in Brazil by Paramount Pictures.

Nunca Antes Na Historia Deste Pais is set in Brazilia, the country's capital, and reveals the behind the scenes of Brazil's political universe. The screenwriter is Luiz Eduardo Soares, the sociologist and author of the book Elite da Tropa, that inspired Padilha's movie version. Budgeted at R$7m ($3.45m), the film is scheduled to be shot in 2010.

The second film is Paraisos Artificiais to be directed by Padilha's partner Marcos Prado and was signed through the studios subsidiaries in the country, Paramount Pictures Brasil Distribuidora de Filmes Ltda and Paramount Home Entertainment Brasil. It is first feature film of Prado, who directed the documentary Estamira (2004).

Based on an original story by Marcos Prado and Anna Clara Peltier, with screenplay by Carolina Kotscho, Paraisos Artificiais follows the life of two young brothers who become involved with drugs in the crazy nightlife of Rio de Janeiro. Principal photography starts on April 2009.

'We are very happy with the support that Paramount Pictures is giving to Brazilian independent filmmakers like us,'' says Padilha. 'Even though our films have small budgets for Hollywood standards, about $4m each, I believe that they have the potential for significant impact in Brazil and abroad, as both films deal with important aspects of modern life, namely political corruption and synthetic drugs.''

Jorge Peregrino. Paramount Pictures International's senior vice president for Latin America, the deal is part of Paramount's worldwide strategy of supporting local productions. 'We had a very successful relationship with Zazen Produções with the distribution of Elite Squad last year and the deal reflects our intention to be in business with them.''