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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Cannes 'ignoring Latin American film'
Meirelles (second right) with the cast of City Of God
Meirelles (second right) with the cast of City Of God
The Cannes film festival is ignoring an important revival in Latin American cinema, according to Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles.

Meirelles is in the French town to promote his new film, City Of God, about a young man's attempt to escape life in Rio's favelas, or shanty towns.


You can expect some really, really big surprises from Brazil in the next three or four years

Fernando Meirelles
"I think we're seeing the beginning of a Latin American wave," said the director.

"It's weird because it seems the Cannes film festival hasn't realised it yet."

Two Mexican films, the critically-acclaimed Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amores Perros, have helped boost the international profile of Latin American film after a long period of perceived stagnation.

But no Latin American films have been selected to compete for the coveted Palme d'Or award - even though Walter Salles, acclaimed Brazilian director of Central Station, is a member of the jury.

City Of God
Meirelles assembled a cast of unknowns for City Of God
Meirelles believes that recent movies from Latin America do not fit with outdated expectations of the continent's film-making.

"All those films are very modern, the way we're telling our stories," he said.

"Maybe that's why Cannes hasn't recognised us yet, because they expect us to do those old Latin American movies and there is something new coming in."

The director is hoping Brazil's film output will increase now that the government has introduced new taxes and fees on foreign studios and pay-television that will be allocated to local film production.

Barriers

"You can expect some really, really big surprises from Brazil in the next three or four years," Meirelles predicted - and added that Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay were all likely to produce good films.

The director also predicted the breaking down of the language barrier between Portuguese-speaking Brazil and its Spanish-speaking neighbours, thanks to better distribution by US companies like Miramax.

"I thought City of God wouldn't be released in Argentina but we sold it to Miramax, so now I'm sure Latin Americans will see our film.

"It's weird, but it has to go there to come back."

Latin American film-makers are also collaborating more, said Meirelles, pointing out that Walter Salles, who produced City of God, was working on a project with upcoming Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

"We're beginning to work together. I think this is good for everyone," he said.

Though the director felt that Cannes was "missing the moment", he said he was confident the festival would come to recognize the new energy in the continent's film industry.

"I'm sure that in two or three years, they will notice."


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