Energisa Juntos

The Zona da Mata Audiovisual Pole revolution

Energisa boosts the Pole's longevity and productivity, transforming the region into a hotbed of cinematic innovation

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Minas Gerais

If I told you that one of the most-watched films on Brazilian Netflix was produced in Cataguases (MG), and that all the main streaming platforms also show films made in the Zona da Mata Audiovisual Hub (Apolo), would you be surprised?

It's the result of more than two decades of work, with a lot of continuous investment and hard work on the part of the project's organizers. Cesar Piva, president of the Audiovisual Pole Development Agency, spoke to Energisa Juntos to tell us a little about this rich history.

It all started in 2002, when the Ormeo Junqueira Botelho Foundation inaugurated the Humberto Mauro Cultural Centre (CCHM) in Cataguases, paying homage to the seminal director for Brazilian cinema and culture. With the impetus of this space for meeting and celebrating cinema, Fábrica do Futuro was born, a place for production and training in the areas of cinematography.

The future arrived quickly. In 2010, high-profile films began to be shot in the Zona da Mata. The Polo's first major production was the hit My Lemon Orange Tree (directed by Marcos Bernstein, 2012), based on the Brazilian literary classic by José Mauro Vasconcelos. Since then, the Hub has attracted major production companies, impacting the city's creative economy and training a generation of audiovisual professionals.

To give you an idea of the size, by 2019 there had been 30 major film and TV productions, including 2 series and 28 feature films. This is in addition to the short films that were made through the Usina Criativa de Cinema regional call for proposals, a kind of project incubator created in 2016 that works with sponsorship from Energisa and cultural support from the Energisa Institute. Those selected go through mentoring in various areas, from scriptwriting to photography, the directors work on their films for three months and then go on to shoot. All these accomplishments go on to the Ver e Fazer Filmes Festival," said Cesar Piva.

Film production in the region generates many benefits for the region's economy, since most of the film and TV crew is hired locally. By 2020, more than R$ 120 million had circulated in the Zona da Mata thanks to the Audiovisual Hub.

One of the most recent box office successes is the feature film Predestinado - Arigó e o espírito do Doutor Fritz, which recently entered Netflix's top 10. The film, directed by Gustavo Fernandéz and sponsored by Energisa, has a star-studded cast including Danton Mello and Juliana Paes. The film tells the story of the medium Arigó, who received the spirit of Doctor Fritz to perform spiritual surgeries. Released in 2022 in more than 600 theaters across the country, the film reached a huge audience in theaters and is now a success on streaming.

Another film produced at the Polo that deserves to be highlighted is the feature film As órfãs da rainha (The Queen's Orphans), by Elza Cataldo. Winner of international awards such as best historical film at the 14th edition of the Toronto International Women Film Festival, the production addresses fundamental themes for thinking about Brazil and the lives of women during the years of colonization. In the story, three sisters, raised under the protection of the Queen of Portugal, are forced to travel to Colonial Brazil to marry, raise a family and occupy the new territory, facing dilemmas and frustrations.

In these 10 years of practical training, with local people working with the best in the country, a new generation of professionals and filmmakers has been emerging and seeking their space. That's why the Usina Criativa call for proposals and the Ver e Fazer Filmes Festival are so important," added Piva.

Festival Ver e Fazer Filmes and Animaparque

This year, the Ver e Fazer Filmes Festival will take place from July 1 to 6, in a special edition dedicated to animation, celebrating the inauguration of Animaparque, the largest studio-school for audiovisual animation production in South America. This new 10,000 m² space has a multi-purpose auditorium, soundtrack laboratories, recording studios, set and costume design studios, as well as production and directing bases and rooms. The Festival is also sponsored by Energisa, as Ver e Fazer is part of the Energisa Cultural Program portfolio.

Sponsored by Energisa Group to the tune of R$2 million, Animaparque is run by the Zona da Mata Audiovisual Pole Development Agency, which also receives support from the Group in partnership with the Rio Pomba Valley project, a digital education and entrepreneurship hub.

Animaparque's studio-school works in partnership with the State University of Minas Gerais (UEMG). Since September 2022, the technologist course in animation film has been in full swing, with 72 students and 3 classes in training. This year alone, 2 films will be made at the Park, with a total budget of R$7 million, through the Paulo Gustavo law. Animaparque is also a space for the whole city, with areas open to visitors and hosting events in arts other than audiovisual, such as theater, dance and visual arts.

With all this news, it's not surprising that this year's Festival Ver e Fazer Filmes is focusing on animation. Eight short films produced at Animaparque last year will premiere at the festival, as well as several other national and international productions. A jury made up of 500 children aged between 8 and 12 will watch the films and take part in discussions, before voting to award the festival trophy in various categories.

Feature films will also be present at the festival. The Energisa Sessions will take place in the evening, with previews of four films produced at the Hub. This way, the local population and film industry workers will be able to see first-hand the productions made there, before they go on to commercial theaters andstreaming services.

It is very important to circulate these films produced here at the Hub, whether they are shorts or major productions. That's why distribution and capillarization via festivals, cinemas, streaming and schools is essential. One example is Guilherme Fiuza's The Boy in the Mirror , which was shown in film clubs in 10 cities in the Zona da Mata region and was watched by 25,000 children and teenagers, more than the total audience of the cinemas it visited. Here we make films and work to ensure that they reach the viewer, with the help of various partners, such as Energisa. We're restarting the film clubs, which ended due to the pandemic, and I'm a great believer in this form of dissemination," added Piva.

To get you closer and become another viewer of this huge range of excellent productions in Brazilian cinema, we've put together a list of films produced in the Zona da Mata Audiovisual Hub that are available on various streaming platforms. Check them out:

  • Short films
    All 22 short films produced through the Usina Criativa de Cinema call for proposals are available for free on the project's YouTube channel.
  • Predestined: Arigó and the Spirit of Dr. Fritz (2022)
    In the 1950s, an ordinary Brazilian defies the authorities and performs surgery with the help of the spirit of a German doctor from World War I.
    Directed by: Gustavo Fernández
    Starring: Danton Mello, Juliana Paes, Marcos Caruso
    Where to watch: Netflix
  • Meu pé de laranja lima (2012)
    Zezé learns to use his fertile imagination, his storytelling skills and a fruit tree to survive in a violent environment.
    Directed by: Marcos Bernstein
    Starring: José de Abreu, João Guilherme, Caco Ciocler.
    Where to watch: Netflix
  • The Boy in the Mirror (2014)
    A creative and mischievous boy is punished by his parents, but his image in the mirror comes to life and he keeps getting up to mischief. How long will this prank last?
    Directed by: Guilherme Fiuza
    Starring: Lino Facioli, Regiane Alves, Ricardo Blat
    Where to watch: Netflix
  • Derrapada (2017)
    At the age of 17, Samuca discovers that he has got his girlfriend pregnant. Now he feels under pressure for having made the same mistake as his mother, who also had a child at a young age.
    Directed by: Pedro Amorim
    Starring: Matheus Costa, Nanda Costa, Augusto Madeira
    Where to watch: Telecine Play, YouTube Movies
  • Maria do Caritó (2019)
    All Maria do Caritó wants most is to find a love to call her own. Promised by her father to Saint Djalminha, a saint no one has ever heard of, she asks the heavens for divine intervention.
    Directedby: João Paulo Jabur
    Starring: Lilia Cabral, Leopoldo Pacheco
    Where to watch: Prime Video, YouTube Movies
  • Dentro da Caixinha (2016)
    Arthur, Laura and João are three siblings who go on vacation at their grandmother's house. Armedwith cell phones and video games, they see their plans to have fun with technology fall apart.
    Directed by: Guilherme Reis
    Starring: Leônidas José, Manoela Domingos, Cauã Carvalho
    Where to watch: Prime Video
  • Correndo Atrás (2019)
    Ventania, a worker who does everything he can to make ends meet, becomes a soccer talent scout. That's when he meets a disabled man who, despite his difficulties, has a lot of talent.
    Direction: Jeferson De
    Starring: Aílton Graça, Hélio de la Peña, Juliana Alves, Lellê , Lázaro Ramos
    Where to watch: Telecine Play, YouTube Movies
  • Introduction to the music of blood (2017)
    In the interior of Brazil, between the archaic and the contemporary worlds, a family lives out its anxieties in an atmosphere of desire and repression.
    Directed by: Luiz Carlos Lacerda
    Starring: Ney Latorraca, Bete Mendes, Greta Antoine, Armando Babaioff
    Where to watch: Claro TV+
  • Earth Castle (2020)
    In 2012, French director Oriane Descout left her middle-class life in Europe to find her destiny 9,000 km away. Over the course of a 7-year journey, she recorded the challenges she faced and discovered a new way of life: rural, collective, self-managed, anti-capitalist, sustainable and ecological. In Brazil, she met her partner and realized her greatest dream - a utopian "Earth Castle".
    Direction: Oriane Descout
    Where to watch: YouTube Movies
  • Humberto Mauro, cinema é cachoeira (2016).
    In the streaming service of Empresa Mineira de Comunicações, EMCPlay, we have available several films by the renowned filmmaker Humberto Mauro, as well as the documentary directed by his great-nephew, André Di Mauro.
    Where to watch: EMCPlay

Culture, Patrocínio, Cataguases

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