"Movie theaters will return with less audience," says Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles

The audiovisual sector was hardly hit by the pandemic, but the director's film production company intends to resume filming in August

Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles
Photo: Shutterstock
  • On a YouTube live led by Valor Econômico, Oscar nominee for City of God Fernando Meirelles shed a light on the pandemic’s impact on the Brazilian culture and audiovisual sector;
  • With productions on hold, the director intends to resume pre-production in mid-July and resume filming in August;
  • Asked by the impact of the current government on the country’s culture, Meirelles shared that he sees the administration detached from society.

Oscar nominee for City of God and director of the Netflix original Two Popes, Fernando Meirelles shared his thoughts about the impact of the pandemic on culture in Brazil on a YouTube live led by Valor Econômico newspaper this Friday, 29.

Suffering a sharp impact due to the pandemic, the audiovisual sector in Brazil, a market that works with many freelance professionals according to the filmmaker, is almost entirely on hold. “Everything stopped, everyone who had a project, it’s a little desperate,” he stressed.

With three series for streaming services interrupted, Meirelles’s production company O2 Filmes was shooting Brotherhood for Netflix, Mal Secreto for Globoplay, and another title for Amazon Prime Video, that the director couldn’t disclose due to distribution rights. “Our plan is to go back to pre [production] in mid-July and resume filming in August. It will change the whole way of organizing the production set.” The producer reveals that Netflix itself already asked the team to rewrite some of the scenes of Brotherhood to adapt to new health and security measures (such as fewer people on the scenes), and said they were studying new protocols do adopt.

“But we are maintaining a routine of home office [at O2 Filmes] and it’s working. I never want to have a face-to-face meeting again,” he jokes. “Zoom is wonderful, much more efficient, faster, this kind of thing [remote tools for home office] is here to stay.”

“Climate crisis is my biggest distress. People hear about it but no one understands the seriousness of the problem.” Meirelles reveals that is working on a new movie that will shed a light on climate issues, but it will be intended for a younger public. “This is a very good time to rethink: this ‘normal life’, is it what I want to go back to?”

As for a scenario on the post-pandemic, Meirelles believes that movie theaters will attract less audience as people are getting used to watching movies at home, via streaming services. For him, when it comes to the industry, with postponed releases, closed movie theaters, canceled festivals, and films that were for cinema being released directly through streaming, the ones that are really surfing the wave are, naturally, platforms such as Netflix.

READ ALSO: HBO Max launches in the U.S. and eyes Latin America for its foreign expansion

“Streamings helped to boost the production market. They are all producing series with their own money, because they want to sell subscriptions. Their entry has put a lot of money into the industry.” But the filmmaker stresses the importance of being attentive with regulation laws. With the obligation, since 2012, for all pay TV channels in the country to produce Brazilian content – something that boosted the local audiovisual sector – he says that constantly there are projects on Congress trying to deregulate this measure.

“There is a pressure from the telcos, to spend less, bringing American production that is already done, alleging that the user has the right to watch anything he might want. The wave of deregulation is very dangerous. If you deregulate, there is a part of the country, some sectors, which are swallowed.”

In an interview with LABS, O2 Filmes partner and executive producer, Andrea Barata Ribeiro, said that “culture is being dismantled in Brazil and with it, a policy of more than 20 years of fostering the audiovisual industry. So the arrival of the platforms gives us the possibility to keep working.”

“Brazil has strong institutions”

Asked by the impact of the current government on the country’s culture, Meirelles shared that he sees the administration detached from reality and from society. “But I also see that Brazil has solid structures and institutions. So, many proposals that are quite absurd, the mechanisms like the Congress, the Supreme Court manage to block their approval.”

Get the best insights about Latin America market in your inbox