LOCARNO - Talk about raising the bar. At Locarno, Brazil's Fabiano Gullane, co-founder with brother Caio of Sao Paulo-based Gullane Filmes, is unveiling to sales agents and potential co-producers the biggest, most ambitious and most sophisticated movie production slate in modern Brazilian times.
Novelties on Gullane's 14-title slate include two new Hollywood studio link-ups: Tomas Portella's "Love Stories," co-produced by Disney's Buena Vista Intl., and romcom "Incompatible," with co-production from Fox, which has acquired worldwide distribution rights.
The portfolio - two movies in post-production, including the Anna Muylaert's anticipated "Where Is She?" which plays Locarno's pix-in-post Carte Blanche Monday, and 12 in development - rolls off the phenomenal success of Gullane's to-date-two-pic comedy franchise, "Till Luck Do Us Part," which gave Gullane the biggest local movie hit in Brazil in 2012 and 2014, grossing a combined $36.1 million at Brazilian wickets.
The announcement also comes just weeks after Brazilian president Dilma Roussef revealed a $540 million production/distribution incentive package for Brazil's film/TV industries.
But Gullane's slate is not the product of fly-by-night opportunism. Founded in 1996, and bowing in 1999 by producing Lais Bodansky's "Brainstorm," which marked the first major role of Rodrigo Santoro, Xerxes in "300," Gullane has produced 26 features since then.
It now ranks as one of Brazil's most veteran movie production companies whose most recent credits include not only "Till Luck Us Do Part 2" but last year's Venice Festival closer "Amazonia," a 3D fictional jungle-set natural history family adventure, and Fernando Coimbra's "A Wolf at the Door," one of Latin America's most notable debuts of 2013, and a winner at the San Sebastian, Rio Havana, Miami and Guadalajara fests.
Sold by Mundial, a joint venture of IM Global and Canana, "Wolf" has closed, of bigger territories, the U.S. (Outsider Pictures), Latin America (HBO and CDC Network), South Korea (Korean Film Art Center BaekDu-DaeGan Films), Spain (Betta Pictures) and Benelux (Wild Bunch Benelux).
Gullane now aims at a three-pronged production strategy, Fabiano Gullane said at Locarno: Movies for Brazil's market; art pics made "with no concessions"; and a third production line, which currently rates at one of the Holy Grails for Latin American movie production, "crossover projects" which can work in both Brazil and international markets.
"That is now one of our main challenges, the model we want to follow," Gullane said in Locarno's Piazza Grande. "When I say work in Brazil, I don't mean sell three or four million tickets, but half a million," he added, citing Cao Hamburger's "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation," an accessible arthouse movies which Paris-based Films Distribution sold to 25 countries.
Of new titles now in more advanced development, romcom "Love Stories" stars husband-and-wife team Gregorio Duvivier and Clarice Falcao, members of the Porta dos Fundos online comedy troupe sensation whose weekly YouTube web shorts have an audience of over 10 million.
Now shooting, "Love Stories" toplines Duvivier as a split personality, a buttoned-up Sao Paolo exec and beach-loving weekend playboy in Rio. He becomes entangled with a woman in Sao Paolo and her sister in Rio. BVI has rights to Latin America.
Gullane has also set "Till Luck Do Us Part 3," where Tino, the again penniless family patriarch, plans to strike it rich for a third time, through marriage. With Roberto Santucci again helming. Paris Filmes will distribute in Brazil.
Targeting Brazilian auds, fiction drama-thriller "4 x 100" turns on the Brazil's relay race team, fourth in London, now training for gold at Rio 2016. "4 x 100" will be released two-or-three months before the Rio Olympics, Gullane said.
Lisbon-produced director-producer Leonel Vieira will helm romcom "Women." Set to shoot first semester 2015, it turns on a lovelorn Brazilian woman who escapes to Lisbon, and seems instantly to have met the man of her life.
The No. 1 distributor in Brazil in 2012, Hollywood studios included, Paris Filmes distributes in Brazil, Zon Lusomundo, Portugal's biggest distributor, in Portugal. Pubcaster RTP has Portuguese free-to-air rights. Telecine those in Brazil.
"Besides selling our films in the most important countries around the world, we need to be closer to Portuguese-speaking countries, we need to sell our movies to Portugal, to Angola, to Mozambique. This is another challenge for us," Gullane commented.
Gullane is co-producing with Walter Salles' VideoFilmes, toon pic "Noah's Ark," based on and using songs from legendary Brazilian lyricist Vinicius de Moraes ("Girl From Ipanema").
Meanwhile, Salles co-scribe and director Sergio Machado, who broke through with "Lower City," is in post-production on the anticipated "Heliopolis," based on true events, about a talented violinist (Lazaro Ramos) asked to chose between his career and teaching teens music in Sao Paulo's biggest favela. Fox co-produces and distributes in Brazil.
One of Gullane's biggest candidates for domestic/international crossover status is, however, "Where Is She?"
Also written by Muylaert, a co-scribe on "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation," "Where is She?" turns on Val, who leaves her daughter Jessica to be raised by relatives, while she goes to Sao Paulo to work for 13 years as a nanny.
One day her daughter arrives to take her college entrance exams in Sao Paulo, to study architecture, one of the most difficult of exams, sparking mounting tension in the household.
Ready for delivery early 2015, "'Where Is She'? is about "the architecture of affections," Muylaert said at Locarno. "It's, we hope, a very popular story, told in a sophisticated manner."
Pic boasts a top-notch crew led by Uruguayan DP Barbara Alvarez ("Whisky," "Acne," "Puzzle") and production designer Marcos Pedrosa, a Karim Anouz regular.
Providing a massive marketing hook for Brazil, Val is played by Globo TV host Regina Case, famed for discovering new talent in Brazil's poorest favelas, Gullane said.
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