Brazilian talents to track Enock Carvalho and Matheus Farias, selected for 2021’s Sundance with short “Unliveable,” are teaming with Janaina Bernardes, a co-producer of Karim Ainouz’s “Nardjes A.” and Argentina’s Frutacine, behind Tribeca player “Initials S.G.,” to produce “Burning Land” (“Terra de Fuego”), Carvalho and Farias’ awaited feature debut.
“Unliveable” was voted by Brazil’s Abraccine critics’ assn. as the best short of the year.
Part of Pernambuco’s building film scene, Carvalho and Farias will produce “Burning Land” via their Recife-based Gatopardo Filmes. Frutacine is headed by Iván Eibuszyc, whose credits also include Santiago Loza’s “La Paz” and Alejandro Fadel’s “Murder Me, Monster.”
It forms part of Pitching Paradiso, a six feature project showcase which will unspool on Nov. 30 at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur.
Written by Carvalho and Farias, “Burning Land” is set at a sugar cane mill in Brazil’s North-East, which is hit by financial crisis, with many employees left unpaid. As workers threaten to strike, they begin to disappear.
Young new employee Fabiana determines to investigate, unveiling a dark universe that surrounds the mill, the town of Queimadas, and Fabiana herself, whose grandfather also disappeared 40 years before. A local legend tells of similar events happening many times in the last 200 years, incidents that remain unsolved.
Viewers may well be trapped, wondering if the cause of the disappearance is, for example, supernatural, or product of down-the-centuries class struggle or lies elsewhere.
“Burning Land” has secured funding from Brazil’s Ministry of Culture, Fundo Setorial Audiovisual, Ancine and Ibermedia. Further funding may shortly be announced.
“At this moment it is a drama about work and social relations in Brazil that happens inside a factory nowadays. But then the drama is slowly transformed into a thriller,” Carvalho told Variety.
“And it’s a film guided by Fabiana, our main protagonist. She is a very beautiful character, full of hope and courage,” he added.
“Argentina and Brazil are currently facing similar situations, fighting against the ultra-right and endeavoring to get back on track,” noted Eibuszyc.
“Terra de Fogo’ reflects on the life of the working class in our countries with a new and fresh perspective. It addresses present problems and topics of interest, including gender equality, class differences, work and worker rights, and the right to develop as an individual while being part of a fair and equitable society. All these thoughts and interests motivated us to become part of such a challenging project,” he explained.
Screened in more than 120 local and international festivals, “Unliveable” was voted best Brazilian short film by Brazil’s Abraccine national critics’ assn.
Farias worked as an editor on two of the most noteworthy Brazilian films of 2023: “Pictures of Ghosts,” directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho, and “Property,” from Daniel Bandeira.
Both made MoMa’s list of 2023 Contenders, focused on influential, innovative films made in the past 12 months that MoMa believes will stand the test of time. They were the only two Brazilian films on the list.