While the Cannes and Sundance Film festivals may both be well known, they are certainly not the only festivals dedicated to the screening of new flicks. The Amazonas Film Festival, now in its ninth year, is rapidly gaining attention. The festival is held in Manaus, Brazil, each year in early November and features award-winning movies from around the world. Screenings for the festival take place at the spectacular Teatro Amazonas. This Belle-Époque opera house served as the inspiration for the epic film by Werner Herzog, “Fitzcarraldo.”
The opening night of the festival featured “Colegas,” a Brazilian film. The film was penned and directed by Marcelo Galvao and illustrates a poetic view of life from the viewpoint of three people with Down syndrome. In total, more than thirty films will compete in the festival. Each of the movies will be competing for the prestigious Flight Over the Jungle award and will compete in several different sections. Those sections include a competition for short films produced in the Amazonas, an international feature competition, a Brazilian short film competition, and a screenwriting competition. The film that garners top honors at the 2012 festival will receive a cash prize.
Eight films were submitted to compete in the International Feature Competition category. The films hail from a diverse array of countries. The American feature “Compliance” is one of the films submitted for this category. Another submission is the Danish movie “Teddy Bear.”
Much like the movies submitted to compete in the festival, the list of jurors chosen is also quite diverse and includes Romanian film producer and director Tudor Giurgiu, Brazilian screenwriter and director Sergio Machado, Argentinian actress Eva Bianco, and Brazilian actor Leonardo Medeiros. The President of Honor for the 2012 Amazonas Film Festival is Zelito Vianna. In addition to screening Vianna’s film “Villa-Lobos: A Life of Passion,” the festival also pays tribute to the bi-centennial anniversary of the Palme d’Or that was won by the Brazilian film “The Prayer of Promises.” In 1962, the film became the first and only film to date to win the award. The film was also the first film from South America to receive a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The weeklong film festival serves as a gathering for movie industry insiders, filmmakers, journalists, and cinema enthusiasts from Brazil and from the rest of the world. The spectacular Amazonian rainforest serves as the backdrop for the festival. A number of initiatives have been instituted by the festival to educate local audiences about the film industry. Such initiatives have included screenings at hospitals, bus stops, community centers, and even remote villages situated along the Rio Negro River.
Films that score top awards in the festival can ultimately mean significant amounts of money for filmmakers and the opportunity to succeed in the Brazilian film industry as well as on an international level.
One of those films vying for a top prize is “Jonathas’ Forest.” The film is directed by Sergio Andrade, a native of Manaus, and is set apart by a divergence from the magical realism that is typically a centerpiece of many Latin American films. At the same time, the film still manages to invoke a transformative atmosphere that affects outsiders as well as Amazonas natives.
Director Craig Zobel’s film “Compliance” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Since that time, the film has managed to create no small amount of controversy in the theatrical and festival worlds. It was released in the United States by Magnolia. Another film to appear at the Amazonas Film Festival is “The Zebra.” Fernando Javier Leon Rodriguez scored an award for the Best First Feature film for his work in this movie. Another contender includes “The Angels’ Share” by Ken Loach. The film focuses on a band of Scottish loners who make the decision to work together in order to accomplish a whiskey heist. Following the premiere of the film at Cannes, rights to the movie were procured by Sundance Selects.
While “The Other Son” is certainly not a blockbuster film, it has received plenty of positive reviews. This film by Lorraine Levy tells the story of an Israeli boy and a Palestinian boy who are swapped at birth. The Danish film “Teddy Bear” by Mads Matthiesen centers around the tale of a bodybuilder. It has already received plenty of acclaim, including the World Cinema Directing award at Sundance.