Talize Salegh talks about The Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival and Market


The Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival and Market was created to bridge the gap between Hollywood, the world film community and the Brazilian Film Industry. Financiers from both Hollywood and Latin America will meet for daily seminars designed to highlight bilateral business opportunities and new film financing opportunities for both Hollywood and the Latin American film community.

HBFF is the first Hollywood-based film festival dedicated to addressing the cultural-creative and commercial exchange between Hollywood, the international film industry and the Brazilian Film Community.

To learn more about the Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival we had an interview with Talize Sayegh, Executive Producer/Founder of the festival.

Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about this year’s Brazilian film festival in Los Angles and what new things can we expect this year?
Talize Salegh:  What’s new this year is that first we have the support from LG Brazil and because of that we are able to show all of our screenings completely for free and second for the first time I have faith that we have the best new Brazilian cinema and what truly represents the future and direction that the cinema in my country is going towards.

BT: How many films will be screened at the festival?
TS: The grand opening is on June 1st and that is at the Egyptian Theatre and that is an invitation only event; form the 2nd to the 4th, we will be at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre. We will be showing shorts and features, we don’t like to divide shorts and features, a film is a film and we like to give the director the opportunity to compete with their amazing piece of art. So we open every feature with a short. So the opening night we have a grand opening of Riscado which is a beautiful film about actors that won Best Actress at the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, on the second night we have two features and two shorts which is on Thursday night and a chat with the filmmakers at The Roosevelt Hotel, on Friday we have four features and two shorts and we start at 5 o clock. On Saturday we start at 2:30 in the afternoon and we start with a special screening about skating and how the skating world started in Brazil. On Saturday night we actually have a screening at 5pm and another screening at 7pm and the final closing film which is a co-production with Denmark that is called Rosa Morena and that is at 9pm.

BT: How much does the festival represent Brazilian cinema today?
TS: I think now more than ever before, this is my third year and I was never able to capture the festival that I truly wanted to represent which was the indie Brazilian cinema, which shows the best of our country and does not necessarily need to be made with millions of dollars. I wanted to break the stereotypes of films like City of God that we only have guns. We have a film called Beyond the Road that is a co-production with Uruguay and Bollywood Dream which is a co-production with India and the US. We want to show that true Brazilian filmmaking has no borders anymore; we make films and we have amazing talent and directors and actors and I really believe that we are going to feature great films and be recognized internationally and this is our time.

BT: Are there any guest filmmakers attending the festival?
TS: We’re bringing 11 filmmakers, the only ones who will not be there are the directors of the films out of the compoetition. This year we will be honoring the first Brazilian woman to be nominated for an Academy Award, she is the most important actress in our country and she is 81 years old.

BT: Will there be any Q&A sessions?
TS: Yes, after every film we are going to have a  brief Q&A and on Thursday we are having a discussion with the filmmakers and it is going to be at the Oscar Room at the Roosevelt Hotel at 5pm. Everyone can come and chat with all of the filmmakers, it is open to the public.

BT: It’s wonderful that this aspect of the festival is open to the public.
TS: That was my intention from the beginning, I used to work in 2003 with the Los Angeles Latino film festival and I always felt that it was really hard on us to produce a festival of Latin American movies and I feel that it is now my obligation to offer the festival of hip, up and coming Brazilian films available to everyone who’s interested. The thing that I am most proud of here is that all of the screenings are completely free, to give someone a chance to see an amazing piece of art from my country and I am sure that it will keep them coming back year after year.

BT: Will the audience have a chance to see glimpse of the film that will be sent for the academy award by Brazil.
TS: It has not been chosen yet, so we are not sure which film it will be.

BT: Is there any particular film or films that you really want the audience to look for?
TS: Beyond the Road, which will show on Friday night, is a really special world movie, it is spoken in English and Portuguese and Spanish and it talks about lost love and the search for happiness. Bollywood Dream was made by a woman and it has three wonderful actresses. They did everything themselves, and it is the first Brazilian production with India. It empowers women and shows that they can do whatever they want if they get together and move forward. There is a co production with Denmark about a gay man who comes to Brazil because he desperately wants to be a father; it is one of the most moving films that I have ever seen. Also there is a film called The Escape of the Gorilla Woman, a wild road-movie cum musical, the co director will be here. Also Road to Ythaca, a truly Avant Garde effort, very low budget. They are all very freash and very different.

BT: What is the best way for the audience to attend the event and obtain a seat for the screening?
TS: We are establishing an e-mail that will be available on our site and we will start reserving seats and we will provide more information. After that it is first come first serve, we have a 300 seat screening room. On the last day we have a 400 seat screening room. We want the house to be completely packed.

BT: Is there anything else you want to add or any other events occurring at the festival?
TS: I truly want everybody to be at every screening that they can and to be able to meet with every filmmaker and to possibly join forces with these filmmakers. I think that if we all go and see these films then the opportunities are endless.

A side note from Sandro Fiorin,  Artistic Director of Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival:
All 18 films selected for this showcase have something very meaningful in common: they are independent productions. Most were made with the support of federal and regional funds, but still, they each have a singular, original voice of their own. They are totally universal in their approach to the audience, miles away from any clichés we all know too well.

Every feature, short, doc, and narrative moving image, captured in a myriad of formats, represents the newest crop of filmmaking flourishing in Brazil in the last few years. They come from the North and South, and abroad. Besides Portuguese, they’re spoken in English, Spanish, French, Danish, Polish, Hebrew, and Hindi.

Several are co productions with other countries, directed by new and established filmmakers, women and men, gay and straight. All are essentially Brazilians, multi-cultural by nature. We are privileged to be around such incredible talent, to witness this ongoing wave. Enjoy the ride!

Thanks to LG Brasil, our lead sponsor, the whole festival is free and open to the public. Opening Gala is at the Egyptian Theater, free screenings are at the Mann Chinese 6 Theaters, open panels and filmmakers’ lounge are at the Oscar Room in The Roosevelt Hotel.

For more information check the festival’s site.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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