By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Bacurau, the film produced by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, made its debut on Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival with a standing ovation for the producers at the end of the showing. The Brazilian film is one of at least ten films by Brazilian directors and producers being shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
The number of Brazilian films shown, the largest in the Festival’s history, hides the turmoil faced by the segment today in Brazil.
Brazil’s cultural scene has faced turbulence since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January with the promise to eradicate the country’s “cultural Marxism” from all spheres of society, including the audiovisual segment.
At the beginning of January, Brazil’s Ministry of Culture was extinguished, and the sector became just another department within the Ministry of Citizenship, along with other areas such as sports and social development.
In March, Apex (Brazil’s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency), announced that it was suspending crucial financing for Cinema do Brasil, an association of producers which promotes Brazilian audiovisual productions abroad and establishes partnerships for those productions to participate in international festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, and Toronto.
To get around budgeting problems, Cinema do Brasil started to seek sponsorships, closing partnerships with more than forty companies.
“Fortunately, thanks to important support offered by companies in the industry and other institutional partners, we will have the traditional Brazilian Cinema booth (at Cannes Festival), and organize a business agenda for the associates of the program, without the participation of Apex-Brasil,” said the statement issued by Cinema do Brasil.
Also during March, a crisis between the National Film Agency (ANCINE) and the Federal Court of Audit (TCU) erupted when the TCU authorized an audit at ANCINE, questioning the agency’s accounting methodology. According to the court, the methods used by the agency was unable to detect frauds.
With tension rising between the TCU and the agency, ANCINE’s CEO Christian de Castro announced in April that the government was suspending the transfer of funds for the production of films and TV series due to “a determination of the TCU”.
TCU judge, André Luís de Carvalho, however, denied that the court ever ordered the halt of funding. According to Carvalho, the Court asked the agency: “The Court wants clarification of the reason for the immediate suspension because there was no reason for suspension,” Carvalho was quoted at the time by local media.
During the same period, Bolsonaro’s government changed the requirements and limits on funding for the Rouanet Law, now dubbed the Federal Law of Incentive to Culture. The new rules call for the reduction of the limit of financing from R$60 million to R$1 million per project and the priority to be given to projects coming from outside of the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo region.
Despite the problems, Brazilian films and documentaries will be represented at full force in Cannes from May 14th to 25th.
In addition to Bacurau, the Brazilian productions to be shown at the Festival this year include “Sem seu sangue” by Alice Furtado, “A memória que me contam” by Lúcia Murat, “Rânia” by Roberta Marques, “Angie” by Marcio Garcia, “Pátio” by Aly Muritiba, “Cara ou coroa” by Ugo Giorgetti, “Elena” by Petra Costa, “Cores” by Francisco Garcia, and “Confia em mim” by Michel Tikhomiroff.