‘Charcoal’ Producer Bionica Drives into English-Language Production With ‘The Eyes of Another’ (EXCLUSIVE)

São Paulo’s Biônica Filmes, behind Carolina Markowicz’s Toronto hit “Charcoal” and her upcoming “Toll,” is driving into English-language production, backing “The Eyes of Another,” from Maria Arida, as Biônica taps into an exciting new generation of young women filmmakers in Brazil.

“Eyes” marks the feature debut from Arida, currently based out of São Paulo, who drew attention with “Instinct,” her AFI thesis film, a 17-minute short which world premiered at London’s BFI Flare, then had its U.S. premiere at the Phoenix Film Festival where it won the award for best Latin American short. It is written by Liz Buda (“Getting Meisnered”). 

Arida describes herself as a Brazilian genre director focused on female-driven thrillers and horror films. Part of the official market selection of Fantasia’s Frontières industry platform, which unspools July 26-29, “The Eyes of Another” is a case in point. Now in advanced development, it turns on a renowned choreographer, Olivia Klein who, trapped in a psychologically abusive marriage, has an affair with Julien, one of her dancers. 

When a horrific fight ends with her husband Nathan dead and Julien unrecognizably disfigured, the lover undergoes reconstructive surgery to look like the husband and hide the murder. However, Olivia soon begins to question the identity of the man who survived.

“In ‘The Eyes Of Another,’ my debut feature film, we’ll delve into the psyche of a strong-willed woman trying to free herself from the constraints of a manipulative and controlling man,” Arida told Variety. “Our goal is to create a disturbing movie that connects the oppression of psychological abuse and the larger systemic oppression women endure.”

“We are thrilled to work with Maria on her first feature film. Bionica Filmes has continuously sought out captivating stories that not only resonate with audiences but also shed light on important societal issues. ‘The Eyes of Another’ is a powerful addition to our repertoire of thought-provoking films, as it fearlessly exposes the dark underbelly of abusive relationships,” said Karen Castanho and João Macedo, the film’s producers for Biônica Filmes.

“Wryly sinister,” and “a grim depiction of humans with nothing left to lose,” said Variety, “Charcoal” world premiered to acclaim at Toronto’s prestigious Platform last year before playing at San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos. 

Now in post-production, “Toll,” a second feature from Markowicz who dazzled at Cannes in 2018, winning its Queer Palm for “Orphan,” is set in industrial hub Cubatão. It follows Suellen, in her forties, who works as a toll booth attendant, and her son, Tiquinho, from a past relationship, who is 17 and clearly gay, something Suellen cannot accept, even though she loves him.

Founded in 2012 by Bianca Villar, Fernando Fraiha and Castanho, Biônica Filmes produced HBO Latin America series “PSI,” which ran to four seasons and scored three Intl. Emmy nominations. 

It has a remarkably broad slate of new voices and more mainstream propositions: Four of its productions have ranked as the highest-grossing Brazilian movies of the year: “Men are From Mars” and “That’s Where I’m Going” (2014); “Monica and Friends – Bonds” (2019) and “Monica and Friends – Lessons” (2021).

Currently, Biônica is shooting two feature films: “Chico Bento” by Fernando Fraiha, a live action adaptation based on the characters of Mauricio de Sousa, and a production service.

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