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Brazil Distributor: Art Films’ Ugo Sorrentino

Brazil Distributor: Art Films' Ugo Sorrentino

An interesting discussion during FICG 2013 with Ugo Sorrentino, the head of Art Films, brought to light the issues involved with co-productions with Brazil, whether with Latino or other countries.   Ugo’s grandfather started in the business in 1931 as the distributor for the German production company UFA.  The war blocked all German films and so the company switched and still distributes many French along with American indies, and, as one can see below, they are distributing many Scandinavian films too.  

According to Ugo Sorrentino of Art Films, for the Brazilian co-production law to be effective in breaking the stronghold of American film imperialism, it should not only be about co-production but about co-distribution. “Unless there are co-distribution agreements between Brazil and other countries, the simple co-production deals won’t be sufficient to have these films shown in either country, leaving predominant American films occupying the playing time.  We need to give an edge on distribution for our films.”

If Brazil were to do “effective” co-productions with Latin America, it must also have a co-distribution agreement in place, because the Brazilians do not like Spanish language films, nor do Spanish speaking countries embrace Brazilian (Portuguese-language) films.  So even if they are made, they may not find Brazilian or Latin American distribution. 

Every distributor and international sales agent knows well that to have a film made is not enough; the film must have the possibility of making money for a business to run.  The filmmaker also needs this in order to establish herself or himself as a bonafide player in the international film business.

ANCINE, the governmental arm of Brazil had a two year agreement with INCAA, the governmental film arm of Argentina, to trade 8 films with P&A of US$20,000 included.  There are 100 film produced in Argentina in one year, so over 4 years there are 400.  If you choose the best 8 then a pipeline can be, and in fact was, created to habituate the audiences to these films.  The agreement between ANCINE and INCAA gave Argentinian films an edge in Brazil.  It broke the ice and created the habit of accepting and watching well-written Argentinian films. Brazilian audiences might still choose to go to see an Argentinian film as a result of this initiative.  However, Argentina did not reciprocate and so Brazilian films did not gain a foothold in Argentina.

In 2012, according to compiled data by ANCINE, the only co-productions with Latin America were a two part documentary “In 2111” co-produced with Argentina, a TV series by Endemol co-produced with Argentina “10 Years Younger” and an ad co-produced with Chile entitled “Fiestas, Sandals and Blouses”.

Ventana Sur, the Buenos Aires based film market which sells Argentinian along with other countries’ films, needs that co-production/ co-distribution with P&A in place to make effective inroads into other countries like Brazil where Spanish language films are not habitually accepted. 

“Movie imperialism”, as U.S. films abroad are known, will continue everywhere unless such co-distribution arrangements accompany co-production agreements of the countries trying to gain a foothold in local and worldwide film business.

Brazil has the largest
theatrical business in Latin America in terms of theatrical box office (US$862
million BO in 2011 vs. Mexico’s US$ 788 million).  Brazil has 200 million inhabitants; 18 million are in Sao Paolo and 13 million in Rio.  It has the largest population of Latin American countries with the third largest GDP per capita (in 2011) of USD $13, 000 after Uruguay’s USD $15,000 and Chile’s US$14,000.*

It is 10th largest
film business worldwide in terms of its 2011 theatrical admissions according to
Observatoire’s 2011 market statistics.  Its movie-going
population worldwide with 144 million admissions is up 7% from last year and is
second to Mexico’s 205 million.  And yet in terms of per capita admissions, among the Latin American countries it
has the second lowest per capita admissions of 0.7 per person, tying
Uruguay.  Bolivia has the lowest at 0.2.   Mexico has the highest per capita admissions
of 1.9 films seen in a year per person.

2011 gross box office was USD$ 862 million, an increase of 14% over last year,
the highest level on record, second to Mexico’s USD$ 788 million. 99 Brazilian
feature films were released in 2011, the highest level in recent history.  Cinema admissions increased by 7%, however, the national market share for Brazilian films
dropped form 19% to 12.4%. 

These figures will be
revised at the Cannes Marche this May 2013.

(rather than Spanish) is the second language of Brazil.  However, the expanding middle class, coming
up from the B- and C classes speaks neither English nor Spanish.  Pay TV is currently showing dubbed films.

films hold an 80% share of the Brazilian market. 

must pay Brazil 25% income tax on receipts for U.S. films which play in
Brazil.  However, 18.5% of that can be
used to produce Brazilian films.  Eight
of the top ten Brazilian films are produced by the major Hollywood studios, BUT
they do not go out of Brazil to play in U.S. or other countries.  For instance, a Brazilian film with 5 million
admissions will not be sold internationally by the major studio but by a
smaller company because the majors’ business model does not include sales or
international distribution of non-U.S. films, even if they are produced by them
in Brazil. 

of God
was not produced by a major and was acquired for U.S. by the Weinstein
Brothers for Miramax, but most films do not exit the country in that way,
especially when they are produced by the majors.

law decrees that Brazilian films will have 35 days per screen.  In 2010 the market share for Brazilian films
went up to 19%. However, in 2011 it dropped to 12.4%.  2012 was not such a good year from Brazilian
films either.  2013 sees Brazilian films
struggling to hold onto a 16% share even with the law protecting them.  The 2012 megahit Brazilian film, Elite Squad
, had 12 million admissions.

International Co-Production

Brazil has
for co-production in dual languages.  For the international co-production
agreements see the site of ANCINE
(Agencia Nacional del Cine) the Brazilian national agency of cinema. Bilateral agreements exist
between Brazil and Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Spain and other non-Spanish
speaking countries.  For the 11 of November
1989 Latin American Co-Production Agreement see the Spanish language site

The Audiovisual Law grants up to 7 million Reales (US$1.72 million) per
picture.  To qualify, a project must be
accredited by ANCINE.  The project must
have a local producer attached.  It may
be in any language, but it must be directed or co-directed by a Brazilian.  You can check out all the requirements on the
website of ANCINE.  Some of it, like the FAQ, is in English. 

Art Film itself continues to
change with the times as its latest acquisitions from the Nordic countries as
well as from France include Kon-Tiki,  A
Thousand Times Goodnight starring Juliette Binoche from IM Global and the


Rights : Theatrical, TV, DVD-video, VOD
SWEDEN – Documentary – Budget : $0,0 million


Rights : Theatrical, TV, DVD-video, VOD
DENMARK – Comedy – Budget : $8,1 million

PERFECT MOTHERS, formerly entitled TWO MOTHERS BY ANNE FONTAINE  (acquired from GAUMONT in Jul 2012)

Rights : Theatrical, TV, DVD-video, VOD
FRANCE – Drama – Budget : $0,0 million


Rights : Theatrical, TV, DVD-video, VOD
FRANCE – Animation – Budget : $0,0 million

Jérôme ENRICO (acquired from GAUMONT in Feb 2012)

Rights : Theatrical, TV, DVD-video, VOD
FRANCE – Comedy – Budget : $0,0 million

thinks the future for films in Brazil is in dubbing.  TV series are subtitled for TV, but films are
both dubbed and subtitled.  The B- and C
classes have TV access and increasingly to Pay TV and, as was said, they do not
speak English. Pay TV is now dubbing and Ugo Sorrentino is now also thinking of
dubbing the bigger films he distributes, starting with Kon-Tiki.


* All statistics come from Marche du Film Focus 2012 World Market Trends, published in cooperation with the European Audioviual Observatory


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