Ventre Studio Mines the Ever Hotter Brazil-Portugal TV Axis, Unveils ‘Coligay’ About Brazil’s Legendary Gay Soccer Supporters Club (EXCLUSIVE)

TOLEDO, Spain — Brazil’s Ventre Studio is readying a powerful slate of scripted series mining the rapidly growing Portugal-Brazil co-production axis, which Ventre itself has helped forge with “Godless John,” produced by Ventre Studio and Canal Brasil as well as Coral Europa and TVI in Portugal.

First up in titles is dramedic mini-series “Coligay,” directed by Oscar-nominated Paulo Machline (“A Soccer Story”) and Rafael Gomes, helmer of LGBTQ romantic drama “45 Days Away From You.” Canal Brasil has boarded “Coligay” licensing Brazilian first window TV rights.

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A scripted series about Brazil’s extraordinary first LGBTQ soccer supporter’s group, “Coligay” turns on the flamboyantly gay fan collective of soccer club Grêmio, which flowered over 1977-83.

A symbol of courage and resistance in late 1970s Brazil, it paraded its support for Grêmio in the until-then homophobic context of Brazilian soccer. It did so at a time when Brazil’s military dictatorship was still detaining, torturing and killing dissidents, while the U.S. government turned a blind eye.

“Facing prejudice, they promoted inclusivity and broke taboos, drawing media attention and even learning karate for self-defense. Despite initial hostility, Coligay grew to over 200 members, organizing events and supporting Grêmio across the country,” say press notes.

Though disappearing in 1983, Coligay paved the way for a larger LCBTQ visibility and inclusivity in Brazilian soccer, whose legacy lasts to this day, the series makers have noted.

Ventre’s slate rolls off the success of the series “Godless John,” one of the first independent scripted series co-productions between Brazil and Portugal, which has just been sold to A&E for Latin America.

Produced by Ventre and Canal Brasil in Brazil and Coral Europa and network TVI in Portugal, the three-part mini-series is directed by Marina Person and inspired by Brazil’s biggest modern-day sex scandal, focused on self-proclaimed psychic surgeon João de Deus.

“Ventre Studio’s core positioning is to tell Brazilian stories to global audiences and to be creative not just on the screen but with its business models too,” Ventre producer-partner Paula Cosenza told Variety on the eve of Conecta Fiction where she will talk on an overview panel, part of the forum’s 2024 Brazil Focus.

“Godless John” co-creator and head writer Patricia Corso (“Natalia”) is writing “Coligay’s” scripts.

Tapping funding from Brazil’s powerful Fondo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA), “Coligay” will use the same business model. “The experience on ‘Godless John’ was excellent. Creatively, Brazil and Portugal have always shared mutual interests and the exchange was natural and fruitful. As a business, we combined Brazilian public funds (FSA) with private financing building a healthy budget and financing plan and increasing significantly the production value of the series,” Cosenza said.

Onza Distribution, the Madrid-based production-sales company, has sold “Godless John” to “dozens” of countries, Cosenza added.

“All parties, (including the FSA) will see a financial return. Last but not least, co-producing also meant that what started as a small Brazilian series only for a domestic public reached other audiences and turned into a global project,” Cosenza noted.

“All this was just possible because of this important word: ‘independent.’ The series is owned by its independent producers [retaining IP ownership], and therefore could be sold worldwide.”

In further developments, Ventre Studios is developing two projects with Portugal’s Coral Europe.

Titles in Ventre’s pipeline include “a light comedy,” which turns on a Brazilian psychologist who drives an applicative car in the streets of Lisbon, getting involved in the personal issues of her clients. There’s also a true crime limited series, which is already licensed to soon-to-announce Brazilian and Portuguese channels.

Ventre Studio is also developing series with partners in Spain, Germany, the U.K., Mexico, Argentina, Chile and the U.S. “Co-producing for us is key, in all formats and genres,” said Cosenza.

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