Alive and well in the Internet

The Internet is giving Brazilian filmmakers a new lease on life. Sites
showing Brazil’s quality movies made in the last 100 years are springing up all over. And
the world seems to be responding in kind by flocking (almost) to these new sites.

This year Brazil is celebrating the centenary of their
love for cinema at first sight. Brazilians’ romance with motion
pictures had its debut in July 1896, in Rua do Ouvidor, a traditional
street in Rio de Janeiro, where the first screenings were shown. Just a
few months earlier the Lumičre brothers had made their first
presentation at the Grand Café de Paris in December 1895. And Brazil is
also celebrating another event dealing with motion pictures. It will be
toasting the first anniversary of Brazilian cinema’s getting on the
Internet’s World Wide Web, a place so chockfull of fast changes that a
month seems more like years, and a year more like decades.

Anybody who has access to a WEB browser
(software which locates WEB pages according to an electronic address
(URL) or some keywords) may find, from anywhere in the world, many
sites related to the cinema of Brazil. Using search tools like
Altavista and Yahoo, you have just to enter “brazil” and “cinema” to
get a list of sites dealing with the subject.

The most complete and busiest site on the lists is Cinemabrazil whose Internet address is
http://www.cinemabrasil.org.br. From this homepage, as these sites are frequently called, you can access a plethora of other sites which
are spreading Brazilian culture abroad. Cinemabrazil has been on line at the Ibase/Alternex server since September ’95
and it pitched its homepage on the WEB on October 18, 1995.

Just a few months after the international cinema community had made its presentation at the WEB Cafe,
Brazilian Cinema caught up with the movement. The pioneer in this movement was the non-profit Internet Movie Data Base
from Cardiff, UK http://www.cm.cf.ac.uk/movies. The first commercial WEB site was Hollywood On Line

http://www.hollywood.com which existed in text-only since 1993, but didn’t debut on the World Wide Web until early 1995.

Does all of this matter? It seems it does. When
USA Today online started a poll for Internet users to vote on their
choices of Oscar 96 nominees, many Brazilian sites included a link to the vote page, and the result was that Brazilian
O Qu4trilho, nominated for best foreign picture received 7,470 votes, much more than the favorite for Best Picture
Apollo 13 which got 4,638 nods. Almost as many votes as the favorite best actors Anthony Hopkins (4,523) and Susan Sarandon
(4,642) together! It was like a fever after the campaign was started by an E-mail message from Sérgio Charlab, a sort of guru
for many Brazilian net users.

It was just an innocent poll but a national USA newspaper survey always moves public opinion, which, in turn,
might move Oscar voters’ opinion, and perhaps, awards destiny. It was worth a try. Independently of any result it was
very gratifying to find out the strength of Brazilians united on line.

In September 1995, Internet World (IW) magazine, in its premiere Brazilian edition, published an A to Z guide
with about 200 Brazilian homepages. By then, Brazil was just starting to discover the WEB. In February ’96, the same
guide had already grown to 1,500 Brazilian sites. Since the number increases around 20% a month, and some homepage
owners don’t submit their URL to be listed, one had better estimate another thousand homepages not listed yet, which will
produce a figure of 2,500 Brazilian homepages in April 1996.

At just the Ibase/Alternex server (the first WEB server in Brazil) there are 150 sites. And this is just one among
100 webservers, a number which also increases each month. Today Brazil has a potential Internet market of 14 million
people who have telephone lines. There are already 4 million computers installed. Too few for a population of 160 million
people, but more than enough not to be ignored. In the broadcast market, with just 30 million TV sets, more than 90% of
the population is covered.

 

The Internet turns out to be the right place for recovering the Brazilian movie industry, which in the ’80s was
producing about 100 films a year. The thousands of today will become millions tomorrow, all looking at photos and clips of
Brazilian motion pictures, getting to know its needs, its projects, its promising future.

Take the Cinemabrazil site, for example. It was created to announce a documentary on Brazilian media mogul
Assis Chateaubriand, a cultural movie project, and at same time to bring together all the cultural movie projects that were
also raising funds by publicly selling shares at the Stock Exchange. From that humble beginning that site became the
most complete database for Brazilian movies, now listing 400 titles selected from the 3,000 quality long films that the
Brazilian industry has created so far.

Brazilian movies are barely known abroad. The Internet Movie Data Base, for example, the most complete one,
with 50,000 titles, in February ’96 had around 100 Brazilian titles registered, including shorts and TV programs. And
the listings are full of smaller and bigger mistakes. CineMania 95, the CD-ROM, listed only 15 Brazilian movies and had
just 7 filmmakers’ biographies.

Vagner Ferreira de Almeida, one of the partners at Fibra Cine Video, the company behind Cinemabrazil, says:
“We are giving absolute priority to get the most on these 400 available long movies. Then, as a second step, the catalog
will include the short movies and TV programs, but always within the criteria of selecting the ones that were highlights,
either for high ticket revenue or for rave reviews by critics. We hear now and then that Brazilian movies are too erotic, but
this is not the whole story. There are true masterpieces in our Cinematheques, hundreds of movies which received prizes
in International Film Festivals or were a box office hit. For the time being, we are strictly concerned about listing our
best cultural products. A virtual distributor is also part of our plans, but we will need sponsors in order to guarantee free
service to visitors.” A very interesting page in the Cinemabrazil site is the Comprehensive Summary of Laws for Filming in
Brazil. Two other places deserving a visit are the First Catalog of Brazilian Movies and the Catalog of Films still raising
funds, in which you can get all the basic information in case you wish to invest in a Brazilian movie. Photos, clips and a
virtual tour can be found there. That site was presented to the Ministry of Culture in January ’96 to receive authorization to
offer
income tax discounts to investors who keep any business in Brazil, such as Hollywood’s film distributors and
multinational companies.

Leilany Fernandes, filmmaker and president of the Brazilian Movie Industry Workers’ Union (STIC), is entirely
in favor of such an initiative: “I believe we don’t have to wait to see either the Ministry of Culture or RioFilme, for
example, getting their own site in the Internet. It’s time to realize that private initiatives like Cinemabrazil are much more
efficient and authentic than a bigger and official scheme. Government has to give support to this spontaneous movement. This
is the State’s role.”

Carol Peiffer, an American who visited Brazil about ten years ago, wrote to Cinemabrazil: “I love cows, I write
about them in a quarterly newsletter. Cinema for me is just entertainment, but I love Brazilian writer Jorge Amado and I
would like you to find videotapes with Brazilian movies based on his novels. The
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands tape has already got here.” The site provided some clues on how to get the tapes for
Jubiabá, Capităes de Areia, Tenda
dos Milagres, Gabriela
, all movies based on Amado’s novels and informed her that
Tieta (with actress Sônia Braga) is
just being finished. Peiffer decided to invest in the movie specially presented by the site and then ended up being
investor number one on the Individual Sponsor’s Page.

Cinemabrazil is presently working hard to include in its WEB pages more clips from successful Brazilian movies
and from interviews with renowned Brazilian filmmakers, such as Nélson Pereira dos Santos, Carlos Diegues, Arnaldo
Jabor, among many alive, and those from archives (Gláuber Rocha – Cannes Golden Palm 1968, Alberto Cavalcanti,
Humberto Mauro, among many). It also wants to add more clips with actors and actresses easily recognized abroad as Sônia
Braga for Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and

The Kiss of the Spider Woman, not to mention
Milagro by Robert Redford and Fernanda Torres (Cannes’ Golden Palm – 1988), among others.

In 1996 the Cinema of Brazil will change the Brazil of the Cinema. Since 1962 Brazil had not been nominated for
an Oscar award. At that time, the movie O Pagador de
Promessas
(The Given Word) directed by Anselmo Duarte, did
not get the Academy statuette, but it took home the Golden Palm from Cannes.

This year, out of the 100 cultural movie
projects waiting for investors, at least 10 or 20 will succeed in
raising funds, and the world will get to know that Brazil is not just a
couple of beautiful beaches surrounded by violence. Brazil will show
its traditions, its great personalities, those who have built this
country. It will show its popular culture, its art and its goods, so
that cultural and commercial interchange can be increased for all
countries and all of them can benefit from it.


The official stuff

The Internet has inaugurated a new social order based on equal rights, freedom of speech and fellowship. In this new world
there is also place for the federal and other government places

Festival de Brasília — Site of the traditional film festival promoted by the government of the Distrito Federal, the
country’s capital. The place shows Brazilian movies in competition in 1995. Their address: http://www.gdf.gov.br/festival/cinema.html

Festival Internacional de Curtas de Săo
Paulo
— It showcases a short film festival promoted by the state of Săo Paulo.
The address: http://www.puc-rio.br/mis

Riocult — Place of cultural fair in Rio de Janeiro and for Rio’s and Ministry of Culture’s events. Address:
http://www.eline.com.br/riocult/expositores/expositores.html

 

Some ministries also keep cultural WEB pages in their sites:

Finance Ministryhttp://www.fazenda.gov.br/cultura/html/space/others/arte.htm

Ministry of Foreign Relations — Itamaraty – London
Embassy:

http://www.demon.co.uk/Itamaraty/bsw.html


All over the Net

As time goes by, the world seems to enjoy hearing more
about Brazilian cinema on the Internet. According to Internet
principles or lack of them, private and small groups, or even
individuals, pop here and there, building what could be called the
Brazilian bit of Cyberspace. Two examples of that are:

AlterNETive — A site created by Leandro Indrusiak, a music student at Universidade de Santa Maria (state of Rio Grande do
Sul), showing all kinds of alternative culture, poetry, music, theater, cinema, etc. Address: http://www.ufsm.br/alternet/cine.html

Tati’s page — Tatiana, a graphic designer presents here design projects, cinema, etc. Address:
http://www.lncc.br/~Tatiana

Brazilians living abroad are also helping
connect Brazilian cinema to the rest of the world. There are dozens of
sites like these two below, who list the others:

Indiana University, Bloomington, USA — Address: http://www.indiana.edu/~baiu

 

University of Wales, Cardiff, Great-Britain — Address: http://www.cf.ac.uk/uwcc/suon/brazil/braz-soc.html

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