RIO DE JANEIRO - One of the hallmark personalities of this year's 15th Rio de Janeiro Festival was "Billy Elliot" director Stephen Daldry.
In the ninth week of shooting "Trash" an hour's drive out from Rio, he found time to present "Billy Elliot" in Rio's Favela do Alemao Cine Carioca, at a screening attended by ballet aficionados in Rio's favelas, a tougher call than even Northern England.
Rooney Mara ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") plays an NGO worker, Martin Sheen Father Juillaird.
Meanwhile, London-based PeaPie Films' Kris Thykier and Andrea Barata-Ribeiro, at Sao Paulo's O2 Filmes, presented "Trash" as a co-production case study at the RioMarket.
With Michael and Jeff Zimbalist's "Pele," produced by Imagine Ent., "Trash" - produced by Working Title, PeaPie and O2 Filmes, and distributed worldwide by Universal - rates as the highest-profile international shoot lensing in Brazil. It could well signal Daldry's first social-issue action movie.
Unlike "Pele," however, "Trash's" use of Brazil as a location was no given.
The panel underscored the chain of talent and logic driving the co-production, its financial intricacies, and the excitement for a London-based producer making a film in Brazil, which makes "Trash's" home market one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Having optioned "Trash," Thykier brought in Daldry. "We'd known each other for years. I had worked before on 'Billy Elliot,' a Working Title production, where I worked on publicity for my previous company Freuds. We'd always thought of doing something together again," Thykier explained in Rio.
Thykier had been a partner to Matthew Freud, Richard Curtis' brother-in-law. He originally sent the book to Curtis as a "sense-check." Curtis is best known, of course, as a comedy writer. When the three waste-pickers - Raphael, Gardo and Rat, played by Rickson Tevez, Eduardo Luis and Gabriel Weinstein - discover a leather bag on their heap, they fall foul of bent cops and a corrupt politico, and "Trash" lifts of into young teen thriller terrain.
Dedicating much of his life to philanthropic work, Curtis had just come of writing Stephen Spielberg's "War Horse," and, said Thykier, fell in love with the material.
Having taught in India, Brazil and the Philippines, Mulligan set "Trash" in an imaginary and unspecified third-world country.
One challenge was to decide where to set the big-screen makeover. The filmmakers visited Jardin Gramacho outside Rio de Janeiro, the world's biggest landfill, pictured in Lucy Walker's Academy Award-nommed docu-feature "Waste Land," and met with Fernando Meirelles and Barata Ribeiro its exec-producers.
"This was a situation where the film was as much driven from the production side as the creative side. We knew we were going into uncharted territory," Thykier recalled.
"Stephen wanted non-acting Rio kids, authentically placed, he wanted to investigate this world. After 'City of God' and 'City of Men,' O2 Filmes had deep relationships with lots of communities. Their casting team, led by Chico Accioly, is one of the best I've worked with."
"Trash" is 80% Portuguese-language, 20% English.
Thykier commentated: "I'm fascinated by films like 'The Impossible', where language is no longer an issue, a Spanish story, Spanish team, done in English, then re-dubbed in Spanish. Language is not the issue it once was. There's an audience willing to accept that people speak in a different languages."
To drill down on authenticity, screenwriter-director Felipe Braga ("Latitudes") was brought in to work on the Portuguese version of the screenplay. O2 Filmes screened 10,000 kids, cast three.
"Trash" is "a true co-production," Barata Ribeiro said in Rio.
Push, however, had to come to shove: To draw down Brazil's Fondo Sectorial Audiovisual subsidy and Brazilian tax-break coin, 02 Filmes had to qualify "Trash" as an official Brazilian co-production.
'Trash': A Pioneering U.K.-Brazil Co-Production
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