There’s a joke among Brazilians that the best thing about the city of Niteroi is its view of Rio de Janeiro. Not anymore. While in Los Angeles last week, Niteroi mayor Rodrigo Neves and Brazilian Minister of Culture Sérgio Sá Leitão unveiled ambitious plans to convert the Guanabara Bay city into an international hub for film, television and new media production.
Speaking at a reception hosted by Ambassador Márcia Loureiro, Consul General of Brazil in Los Angeles, and the Brazil– California Chamber of Commerce, Neves and Sa Leitão announced the following measures:
● The creation of a new film/TV/digital investment fund of around $1.6 million (R$6 million reales) in 2018, through a matching fund partnership between the city of Niterói and national film agency, Ancine; upping the fund in 2019 to $5.2 million (R$20 million reales)
● A special funding line of $260,000 (R$1 million reales) in 2019 for international productions shot in Niterói;
● A tax incentive through the reduction of the municipal service tax applicable to production services;
● the launch of the Niterói Film Commission;
● a Brazilian Film Museum;
● a permanent and continuous program for residence, exchange of professors and researchers for project development, script development and other training courses.
● and lastly, the hosting of the 4th BRICS International Film Festival in 2019.
“We’re giving full support to Niteroi’s effort, co-investing with the City Hall through the Ministry of Culture and Ancine,” said Minister Sá Leitao who pointed out in his presentation that the creative industries comprise 2.6% of Brazil’s GDP, generating over one million direct jobs and more than $3.5 billion in tax revenues.
The audiovisual sector alone generates an income of $6.34 billion, 94,972 jobs and more than $550 million in tax revenues. Further growth is projected despite the economic crisis buffeting Brazil at present.
“Cinema has always had a great historical and cultural impact on Niterói” said Neves, adding: “It was no accident that the first film course in the country was created in Niterói 50 years ago in the Federal University of Niterói.”
Neves pointed out that half the city is designated as environmental protection areas. “Our landscapes include the natural beauty of the Guanabara Bay, magnificent beaches, parks, historic buildings, and a major complex of architectural works by the renowned Oscar Niemeyer, including one of the world´s most famous museums, the Modern Art Museum (MAC), situated just 15 Km [9.3 miles] from Rio de Janeiro,” he said.
This city of just 500,000 mainly upper-middle class inhabitants also boasts a low crime rate, thanks to the city’s five-year $26 million (R$100 million reales) investment to increase police presence and install hundreds of security cameras.
“Last year we created a community police project known as “Niterói Present” to enhance control and prevent small-scale thefts in high-density areas. At present the project covers five areas and is being extended to other neighborhoods,” said Neves.
Niterói has served as locations for many Brazilian films and in fact, cars raced across the bridge linking it to Rio in Justin Lin’s 2011 “Fast Five.”
The first film museum in Brazil will be installed in an existing Oscar Niemeyer-designed building in the city center. “At this time, we are preparing the curatorship and display structure of the museum which will offer new experiences and sensations to visitors, as well as house works dedicated to community integration and education,” said Neves.
“While many cities, and Brazil in general, face economic difficulties, Niterói is forging ahead to invest in the film and television industry now to ensure its future leadership and to realize the potential of the audiovisual industry to leverage the economic development of our city,” Neves said.
Sá Leitão concurred: “The new package of measures will be instrumental in strengthening Niteroi as a national and international audiovisual model.”