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Brazilian director says Cannes missing Latin revival
( 2002-05-22 09:30 ) (7 )

Latin American cinema is enjoying a revival but organisers of the Cannes film festival are missing the boat, Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles said on Tuesday.

"I think we're seeing the beginning of a Latin American wave," said Meirelles, whose gritty shantytown saga "City of God" is showing out of competition at the world's most famous film festival.

"It's weird because it seems the Cannes film festival hasn't realised it yet," he told Reuters in an interview.

Critically acclaimed Mexican films "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Amores Perros" have boosted the profile of Latin American film worldwide and created a buzz at Cannes this year over the continent's output.

The trade daily Variety hailed "City of God" as "a hard-edged, taut and compelling crime odyssey", comparing the film's slick visuals and narrative structure with US director Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas".

Yet even though acclaimed Brazilian director Walter Salles is a member of the Cannes jury, no Latin American films have been selected to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or award.

"All those films are very modern, the way we're telling our stories," Meirelles said.

"Maybe that's why Cannes hasn't recognised us yet, because they expect us to do those old Latin American movies and there is something new coming in."


Brazil's traditionally modest film output is set to increase after the government introduced new taxes and fees on foreign studios and pay-television programmers that will be directed to local film production.

"You can expect some really, really big surprises from Brazil in the next three or four years," Meirelles predicted, adding that other countries to look out for were Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Brazilian cinema has traditionally been segregated from the rest of the continent because films are made in Portuguese rather than Spanish, but even this is beginning to change thanks to foreign success.

"I don't know why, but they don't cross borders. Brazilian films don't go to Argentina and vice versa," said Meirelles.

"I thought 'City of God' wouldn't be released in Argentina but we sold it to (US distributor) Miramax, so now I'm sure Latin Americans will see our film. It's weird, but it has to go there to come back."

Local filmmakers have also started to collaborate on productions, both technically and creatively. Meirelles said Salles, who produced "City of God", was working on a project with hot young Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

"We're beginning to work together. I think this is good for everyone," he said.

Though disappointed that his film was not in competition, Meirelles said he was thrilled to show "City of God" in Cannes as the publicity was invaluable.

"I think Cannes is the best window to be seen, even better than the Oscars, because at the Oscars you either get the Oscar or not and that's it, but at Cannes you can talk with journalists from all over the world."

He was confident that in time growing audience interest in Latin America would be reflected in the festival's selection.

"I'm sure that in two or three years, they will notice," he said. "But I think the organisation is missing the moment." 



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