Brazilian cinema brings guns, coke, poetry to London

Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:10am EDT
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By Stephen Eisenhammer

LONDON (Reuters) - With movies ranging from an American poet's sexual awakening to a love story cut short by betrayal, cocaine and a Winchester rifle, the 5th Brazilian Film Festival in London opens this Thursday.

Latin America's largest nation is enjoying a cinematic renaissance, boosted by the success of directors like Fernando Meirelles, behind "City of God" - a gritty portrayal of life in a Rio de Janeiro slum - and Walter Salles, whose recent feature "On the Road" starred Kristen Stewart and Sam Riley.

"For our first festival in Miami (in 1997) we only had 12 films to choose from. Today we produce around 400 films a year and as an industry we're growing every year," festival organizer Adriana Dutra told Reuters.

"Now we have loads of movie professionals working abroad... All positively influencing the industry at home," she said.

Until recently, international names were the exception in an industry that struggled for funding and acclaim. In the early 1990s the Brazilian government, in a wide reform to public spending, dissolved the national body which had helped fund cinema and the number of films produced fell to almost zero.

Now, directors like Meirelles and Salles have opened the door for younger filmmakers and actors who are emerging.

London, home to an estimated 200,000 Brazilians, is a perfect place to showcase Brazil's renascent cinema, Dutra said.

"London is a great cultural city and an important partner for Brazilian film in terms of co-productions so we hope our presence can improve these ties," she said.   Continued...