She Is a Bridge Between Movie Making in Brazil and Movie Showing in the US

Wedding Dress, one of the Brazilian movies shown at the New York FestivalAdriana Dutra is a dreamer, no doubt about that. The difference between Adriana and many other dreamers, is that she is the kind that makes her dreams come through. Even when they are bigger than she had imagined and she realizes that only when it is happening.

But the size of things do not seem to scare this singular woman away. On the contrary, they give her more energy and she starts dreaming about making them even bigger.


That is what happened with the Brazilian Film Festival, started in 1997 by Adriana DeLucena Dutra, along with her sister Cláudia Dutra and friend Viviane Spinelli.


They worked so hard and so fast for the first festival that it was only when they saw it happening that they realized what a big thing they had created.


They moved on and after seven successful years with the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami, Adriana arrived in New York, to open doors to bring the festival to “the largest cultural stage of the world.” And so they did.


Adriana Dutra gave an interview the day before the opening of the III Brazilian Film Festival of New York. We watched Adriana go from moments of making simple practical decisions to more complicated ones, to moments of pure emotion, diving back into her own story and the history of the festival.


Everybody comes to Adriana, everybody calls her. And Adriana, no matter how much stress she is under, has always a word of encouragement, a smile and a thank you.


How did it all start? Adriana Dutra was an actress back in Rio de Janeiro, leader of a theater troupe. She took some time to go travelling and went to Europe, where she attended several workshops, seminars and got many new ideas for her theatre group. On her way back from Europe, she went to Miami, to visit her sister Cláudia, who was living there.


Adriana called her group back in Rio and was startled when they told her not to go back, because they were splitting up and things just did not look good.


With the political crisis Brazil was going through with the Collor scandal, several cultural institutions had been closed, including the Embrafilme offices, and there was hardly any grants for the arts.


In order to survive and remain in the theatre, her friends had to engage themselves with bigger, more professional groups. Adriana went speechless for a few days and decided not to make decisions for a while, kind of letting things take a shape of their own.


She started getting to know Miami and what was happening with the Brazilian population and what was not happening for the Brazilian population.


How much of Brazil was being shown? How much of Brazil was known? It was then that she realized there was no Brazilian cinema in Miami, right when Brazilian filmmakers were working hard and producing great films.


So that was it. 1995 and a great idea, ‘let’s make the I Brazilian Film Festival of Miami.” As simple as that, just a decision. Well, making it happen was not as simple.


Now followed by her sister Cláudia and good friend Viviane, Adriana organized an strategic plan and started acting. Contacting people in Brazil, getting the films, the city permit, taking all the bureaucratic steps for the event, then finding out how to pay for everything, raising funds, finding sponsors and patrons.


Raising funds is not an easy task, but it is even harder for anything on its first year. Second, third and on one can show that it has happened, it was successful, show videos, press support, previous sponsors and a series of things that can be a big push for a final yes from a new sponsor.


When asked if she had any idea of how big her film festival would become, Adriana stopped for a while, looked thoughtful and said “No, I didn’t.”


She wanted it to work, to have quality, she wanted to make sure she would have good movies to show, but she did not realize that this would become huge from the very first year.


The decision to have a trade show within the festival seemed logic. If they wanted to create a real market for Brazilian films, they needed to have films for sale. So business started from the beginning, with the industry representatives watching the screenings and checking the availability and business chances in the trade show.


Filmmakers from Brazil, directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, everybody was eager for new markets and supported the festival, applauded the idea and saved the date, showing up and making the exhibitions even more appealing with their presence.


They are there to give interviews, to participate in discussions, they not only show up, they are part of the show. And by doing so, they help to sell their films It works like in a feeding cycle, the more you give, the more you get and the more the festival grows and the more everybody gets at the end.


Which End?


There is no end. As the Brazilian film industry grows, the Brazilian Film Festival has become part of the moving force that will make it grow abroad. The City of Miami recognized the force of the event right away.


It released the permit for the first festival in 1997 and in 1998 the city was already making the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami an official event.


Seven years and the team felt ready to come and dare in the biggest stage in the world, New York. Central Park’s Summerstage opens the Festival in Manhattan, with bands from Brazil before the screening on Friday and Saturday.


This year the festival brought to New York the best movies produced in Brazil in 2004 and 2005. They brought the sophisticated Brazilian rapper Gabriel O Pensador, booked for the Friday show. Gabriel ended up doing the Saturday show as well, because the band Nação Zumbi could not get visas for all the musicians.


The program was intense. Films, shows, parties and debates were held at Central Park and Tribeca Cinemas, converting the Festival of New York into a great celebration of Brazilian culture.


When asked if she had any thoughts when she first came up with the idea of the Festival, how big it would become and how big a part it would take in pushing Brazilian cinema to become a major export product for Brazil, Adriana smiled and said “No, I had no idea then, but I do know now, I’m very much aware and we are growing each year.”


The Brazilian Film Festival is spreading its tentacles. Adriana is busy organizing the Festival of Barcelona, scheduled for next year and is also working on the I Festival of Shanghai. All these festivals abroad will also have trade shows, except for New York, which should be kept as the big stage for shows, debates and parties.


Adriana Dutra spends the whole year around the Film Festivals. She travels back and forth, and one of the pleasant aspects of the work is choosing the films. Adriana and her team watch all the movies and every year there are more and more movies to watch, as every filmmaker wants to be part of the Festival.


As Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil says: “Both Festivals (Miami and NY) advertise the cultural, tourism, social and economic aspects of Brazil. The goal is to get the Brazilian audio visual products and make them more solid, boost them and commercialize them, as well as to show our culture and strengthen Brazil’s image abroad.


“Therefore, I believe and foresee once again, a huge success for the 9th Brazilian Film Festival of Miami and the 3rd Brazilian Film Festival of New York.”


Well put. It did happen.


Clara Angelica Porto is a Brazilian bilingual journalist living in New York. She went to school in Brazil and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Clara is presently working as the English writer for The Brasilians, a monthly newspaper in Manhattan. Comments welcome at clara.angelica@gmail.com.

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