Brazil’s Current Film IndustryBrazil’s
Current Film Industry
In this paper I will discuss Brazil and
it’s current film industry. I will elucidate its role in the Brazilian
economy, and also what part the government deals in the industry itself.
Certain Brazilian films will be given as representations towards my theories.
Within a year of the Lumiere brother’s
?first experiment’ in Paris in 1896, the cinematograph machine appeared
in Rio de Janeiro. Ten years later, the capital boasted 22 cinema houses
and the first Brazilian feature film, The Stranglers by Antonio Leal, had
been screened. From then on Brazil’s film industry made continuous progress
and, although it has never been large, its output over the years has attracted
international attention. In 1930, still the era of the silent movie in
Brazil, Mario Peixoto’s film, Limite was made. Limite is a surrealistic
work dealing with the conflicts raised by the human condition and how life
conspires to prevent total fulfillment. It was considered a landmark film
in the Brazilian cinema history. In 1933 Cinedia produced The Voice of
Carnival, the first film with Carmen Miranda. This film ushered in the
?chanchada’ which dominated Brazilian cinema for many years. Chanchada’s
were the slapstick comedies, generally filled with musical numbers and
thoroughly cherished by the public.
By the end of the 1940’s Brazilian
film making was becoming an industry. The Vera Cruz Film Company was created
in Sao Paulo with the goal of producing films of international quality.
It hired technicians from abroad and brought back from Europe, Alberto
Cavalcanti, a Brazilian filmmaker with an international reputation to head
the company. Vera Cruz produced some important films before it closed in
1954, among them the epic O Cangaceiro which won the “Best Adventure Film”
award at Cannes Film Festival in 1953. In the 1950’s, Brazilian cinema
radically changed the way it made films. In his 1995 film, Rio 40 Graus,
director Nelson Pereira dos Santos employed the filmmaking techniques
of Italian non realism by using ordinary people as his actors and by going
to the streets to shoot his low budget film. He would become one of the
most important Brazilian filmmakers of all time, and it is he who set the
stage for the Brazilian ?cinema novo’ (an idea in mind and a camera in
the hands) movement. By 1962 ?cinema novo’ had established a new concept
in Brazilian filmmaking. The ?cinema novo’ film’s dealt with themes related
to acute national problems, from conflicts in rural areas to human problems
in the large cities, as well as film versions of important Brazilian novels.
At the end of the 1960’s, the Tropicalist movement had taken hold of the
art scenes in Brazil which meant that cinema came under its spell. It emphasized
the need to transform all foreign influences into a national product. The
most representative film of this movement was Macunaima, by Joaquim Pedro
de Andrade. It was a metaphorical analysis of the Brazilian character as
shown in the story of a native Indian who leaves the Amazon jungle and
goes to the big city. Working at the same time as the Tropicalists were
the ?cinema marginal’ movement. This was another group of directors that
emerged in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro who also made low cost films. This
group produced film’s with theme’s that referred to a marginal society.
Their films were considered ?difficult’. In 1969 the government film agency,
Embrafilme, was created. They were responsible for the co production, financing,
and distribution of a large percentage of films in the 1970’s and 1980’s.Embrafilme
added a commercial dimension to the film industry and made it possible
for it to move on to more ambitious projects. In the 1980’s movies were
not well attended. This was due in part to the popularity of the television.
Many theatres closed their doors, especially in the interior if the country.
Never the less some important films were made. Many were concerned with
political questions. Today many contemporary Brazilian films are being
shown on television and in movie theatres all over the world.
The Brazilian culture at the moment is
a result of a historical process where there was a convergence of three
distinct populations. The Indian population that was situated in the land
before the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Africans who were brought by
the slave owners, and lastly the immigrants that came to Brazil in the
beginning of the 19th century.
Today, Brazil being more conscious of the
richness of these three different cultures tries to incentive the
film industry by bringing these influences out. A perfect example of this
is the film O Quatrilho. O Quatrilho, made in 1996, was one of the five
nominees for the 1996 Academy Award for the Best Movie in a Foreign Language.
This film takes us into the world of a small colony of Italian Immigrants
in the south of Brazil in 1910. The young and serious Angelo is wed to
the beautiful and vibrant Teresa but he pays no attention to her at all.
He is firstly preoccupied with making ends meet and then his fortune rather
than lavishing on his wife. Another couple arrives at the village where
Angelo and Teresa are located. Pierina, Teresa’s cousin, is homely
but hard working while Massimo is more worldly and doesn’t disguise the
fact that he finds Teresa attractive. Before long both couples have children
and they find themselves sharing the same property. The daily routine of
working together on the land is arduous but while Angelo busies himself
with his business and proves successful at it, Massimo and Teresa are drawn
to each other. After their first amorous encounter they decide to abandon
their respective marriages and elope together. The remaining couple, betrayed
by their spouses, continue to live under the same roof, despite church
pressure that they separate. But little by little they discover that they
are in love. As a result of the process of the country’s formation, Brazil
has a rich influence for different time periods and ethnicity’s which can
clearly be seen in the aforementioned film, O Quatrilho.
With a sudden change of Brazilian cultural
laws in the last 2 years, the Brazilian “audio-visual” area’s such as film,
television, and radio flourished. The national production of films were
stagnant from the 1990’s to 1992 due to the radical cuts in government
fiscal and artistic incentives made at the time by the Collor administration.
But because of the new demand for more “audio-visual” products in 1993
that all changed. In 1993 when the law to incentive the “audio-visual”
was created and then passed by the senate, 2 films were produced. A year
later, 1994, 5 films were made. In 1995 17 films were produced, moving
along in 1996 22 films were made. And lastly in 1997 30 films were produced.
This increase gives us the conclusion that with the establishment of the
new law there was a growth of national films. With this growth the emergence
of beautiful filming began. A great example of the growth of national film’s
is Central do Brazil, which won the gold bear at the International Film
Festival in Berlin and the prize for Best Script at the Sundance Festival.
In this film Dora works in the “Central do Brazil” writing letters for
illiterates who desire to correspond with their distant relatives. Ana,
one of her customers, dies by getting hit by a car, and against her wishes,
Dora receives Ana’s only child Josue. Josue dreams to know his father who
has disappeared in the northeast and so he begs Dora to help. Dora, in
the end helps Josue to write letters to help find his father. This film
is currently being shown in Brazilian theatres and also European and American
The actual flourishing of the film industry
is so intense that one can even measure by the fact that in the beginning
of the decade the number of spectators for the Brazilian films were insignificant,
summoning up to about 20,000 per year. But gradually, as the films increased
so did the spectators. In 1997 one can see how the numbers have jumped
to 2 million. Another auspicious fact is the regional diversification of
productions, allowing the elimination of the battles between Rio de Janeiro
and Sao Paulo. Although the market is still dominated by foreign films,
Brazil has begun to export their film’s. In 1997 Brazil imported 680 millions
of dollars against the 38 millions that were being exported.
The Federal Constitution clearly established
in the 2 articles (215, and 216) states that the competency of the state
guarantee’s the cultural rights. Also access to the cultural source,
value and incentivation of the cultural productions and preservations of
the national heritage. Especially the ones from the various ethnic groups
and trends that encompass the Brazilian society. So the 3 fundamental dimensions
of the cultural phenomenon (creation, diffusion, and preservation) are
contemplated in the constitutional text. This places them under the public
responsibilities in collaboration with its society.
The country’s cultural area is changing
to a more stable structure of organization and financial support. The federal
legislation that incentives the culture has 2 powerful laws. Law 8.313/91,
which is the federal law to stimulate the culture, and law 8685/93 which
is the audiovisual law. With these two laws the federal government incentives
and supports the firms to contribute with a percentage of the taxes to
be used in the support of the arts. As a result of these laws we have the
“Revival of the Brazilian Movie”, with an increased income of 80 million
?reais’ (Brazillian currency) in 1997. These figures are four times bigger
than the 1995 figures. An illustration of this is the ministry of culture
that gave 40 awards for film shorts, 15 for scripts, and 15 for the development
of the ?audio-visual’ projects. In 1998, the ministry of culture will center
its efforts to increase the market for Brazilian productions of audio visual
context. By doing so, one hopes that this can increase the structure and
the implementation of the audio visual industry in Brazil.
In conclusion, I believe that the Brazilian
film industry was lacking when it first started. Gradually the industry
has begun to grow and produce films that are even entertaining foreign
audiences, such as O Quatrilho in Europe and the US. Hopefully as the years
pass I believe that even though Brazil is a third world country, it is
rich enough in culture to bring forth a different quality of films that
will reassure the foreign audience and market to give them a chance.