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Dream makers

The recent release of director Fábio Barreto's O Qu4trilho is just one more argument to make the Barretos the quintessential moviemaking family in Brazil. Husband, wife, sons, everybody is involved in making films.

Harriet Robbins

Despite lukewarm reviews by the Brazilian critics, O Qu4trilho Um Jogo de Fascínio e Sedução (O Qu4trilho A Game of Fascination and Seduction) has been delighting film audiences in Brazil since its release earlier this year. In just one month and a half, during a limited engagement in Rio Grande do Sul, in September and October, it brought in 380,000 spectators. An exceptional number when you consider that the big hit of the year, Carlota Joaquina, wasn't seen by more than 1 million people, all over the country, since its release at the beginning of the year.

With a budget of $1.8 million high for a Brazilian movie the film is expected to help re-start the announced renaissance of the Brazilian movie industry. Directed by Fábio Barreto, produced by Lucy and Luiz Carlos Barreto from the novel by José Clemente Pozenato, O Qu4trilho is a slice of life that goes back to the early 1900's when a small group of Italian immigrants in the southernmost part of the country were adapting themselves to their new land and their new passions.

It is based on a true story of two couples who faced the anger of their community and their church after having lived together and swapped partners. Looking for a place of their own, Teresa (Patrícia Pillar) and Ângelo (Alexandre Paternost), a just-married couple, decide to share a house and a little farm with another couple: Massimo (Bruno Campos) and Pierina (Glória Pires).

Little by little, Massimo seduces beautiful Teresa, who is bored with her marriage. They run away. Pierina and Ângelo, the betrayed ones, end up falling in love while they continue living in the same house. Now they have to face the ire of the conservative society of Rio Grande do Sul in the 20s and 30s.

The cast, which includes also Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Cecil Thiré, Cláudio Mamberti, José Lewgoy, and Antônio Carlos Pires, brings a realistic portrayal of this passionate love story that knew no bounds. The adventure of these immigrants is a heartwarming tale laced with courage and determination, all the while fighting prejudice and oppression to reach their final goal of love and happiness.

Qu4trilho is the name of a card game played in Brazil which requires its players to betray their partners in order to win. The film follows this formula to the delight of the audiences as it plays out the story.

That the movie was directed by a Barreto and produced by another Barreto only serves to prove that the Barretos became the Royal Family of Film from Brazil. Luiz Carlos Barreto, Fábios's father, was born in Sobral, state of Ceará in 1928 and went to Rio in 1947 as a photographer and reporter for O Cruzeiro, the leading Brazilian magazine at that time. He married Lucy Barreto in 1954.

Luiz Carlos began making movies in 1961 as script co-author and co-producer of Assalto ao Trem Pagador (The Pay-Train Robbery) a film by Roberto Farias which was very successful. The elder Barreto is considered the father of the Cinema Novo movement. He's been associated in a way or another with the best Brazilian filmmakers, including Nélson Pereira dos Santos (Barretos was producer and photography director for Vidas Secas Barren Lives), Gláuber Rocha (he photographed Terra em Transe Land in Trance), and Cacá Diegues (Luiz Carlos produced A Grande Cidade - The Big City).

In the 70s, Barreto father produced some of the best Brazilian films of all times, including champion box office hit Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands), directed by his son Bruno. He also gave the first opportunity to beginning directors such as Eduardo Escorel (Lição de Amor Love Lesson), and his two sons, Bruno and Fábio. Through co-production, he has also helped many financially strapped directors conclude their films.

Great performers who have worked in the Barreto family's productions make an amazing list. Sônia Braga is at the top. Braga began her career on the stage, was successful in television, and her entry into film was most auspicious with Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. She went on to become an international star making many films in the United States where she is now working.

Other Brazilian screen notables working in the Barretos' productions were José Wilker, Betty Faria, Fernando Torres, Cláudia Ohana, Grande Otelo, Carlos Vereza, Nuno Leal Maia, Glória Pires (she has a starring role in O Qu4trilho), Regina Duarte, and Dina Sfat.

Lucy is co-producer with her husband. Also involved in filmmaking is her mother Luciola Villela. Bruno Barreto is now making films in the United States. Bruno's younger brother, Fábio Barreto, before O Qu4trilho, had directed Índia, a Filha do Sol (Índia, the Sun's Daughter) and O Rei do Rio (The King of Rio).

At a recent Brazilian Producers Conference, which was held at the 1995 Toronto International Film Festival, the Barretos announced a new project. It's O Que É Isso Companheiro?(What's This, Comrade?) to be directed by Bruno Barreto, produced by Luiz Carlos Barreto and Lucy Barreto in a co-production with Sony Corporation/Columbia Pictures.

Based on a book by Fernando Gabeira, it tells the story of the kidnapping of an American Ambassador by a group of college students during the military dictatorship in Brazil in 1968. The screenplay is by Leopoldo Serran (the same who wrote O Qu4trilho), the photography by Felix Ponti. Shooting should start in January in Rio.

The American premiere screening of O Qu4trilho at the Los Angeles A.F.I. (American Film Institute) Film Fest 1995 was made possible by the not-for-profit Americas Film-Festival Foundation (AFFF). The foundation was established in 1986 by Gláucia Baena Soares, a professional in the fields of social communications and advertising, who wanted to see more films from her native Brazil on North American screens.

Since its inception at the American Film Institute in Washington's Kennedy Center in the fall of 1987, the AFFF has presented in annual festivals more than 200 fiction features, documentaries, short films, videos and seminars from Spanish and Portuguese language countries to audiences throughout the western hemisphere.

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