Reel Brazil to keep Nelson on

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 05/06/2014
Sonny Alesana
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
COMMUNITY TIES: Naiane Denardin, co-owner of the Prince Albert Backpackers Hotel and Bar in Nile St, hails from Brazil. The Reel Brazil Film Festival was recently held in the city, with the aim of introducing ties between Brazil and the local community.

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The success of a recent Brazilian film festival in Nelson and associated business events has confirmed Nelson's place in future festivals, the director said.

"Nelson is one of our little darlings now," Reel Brazil Film Festival director Leandro Cavalcanti said.

The fifth edition of the Reel Brazil Film Festival, which traditionally screened in New Zealand's bigger centres, included Nelson on the circuit this year as a platform for wider exposure to reciprocal business opportunities, organisers said.

Nelson law firm Pitt & Moore and accountancy firm Crowe Horwath worked with the film festival organisers to have it screened here.

Cavalcanti said the team was "extremely pleased" with the turnout in Nelson, where 580 attended the five-day event including 110 at the opening night.

He said audience numbers in some cases were similar to those in Auckland and Wellington and the busiest session [aside from opening night] was actually in Nelson with the film The Samba Within Me.

Cavalcanti said Nelson would definitely remain in Reel Brazil's itinerary for future editions, but the real test would be in the third year once the novelty factor had worn off.

"I think one of the reasons for the success was the novelty factor - people were curious and during that time in Nelson there were not a lot of other events on."

He said the film society and Suter worked hard to promote the festival, but he had worked in the industry long enough to know that the third year was often "make or break" and it was four or five years before a festival was ever firmly established.

"We also want to keep the idea of always having a business event attached to the festival, every time we go to Nelson," Cavalcanti said.

The festival which screened at the Suter Theatre was opened at a gala event by Cavalcanti and Brazilian ambassador to New Zealand Eduardo Gradilone, who was on his first visit to Nelson with his wife, Diva Gradilone.

The ambassador also hosted a business luncheon while in Nelson. He said afterwards that even though the Brazilian Embassy was more focused on promoting Brazilian business in New Zealand it recognised that trade goes both ways.

"We are here to help with what we can to promote more business and cultural ties between our two countries," he said.

Gradilone told members of Nelson's business community that if the region wanted to increase its chances as a trading partner with Brazil, it needed to push its inherent qualities in order to stand out from the crowd.

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Crowe Horwath marketing business partner Linda Morris said it was a "unique event" for the region with the aim of introducing the concept of trade with Brazil to local businesses.

"We know from the feedback that for many it was the first time they had heard about the potential for trade with this large and fast-growing economy and we are thrilled that it stimulated discussions and dispelled some misconceptions.

The ambassador's role was to talk about Brazil and give some background around the culture and business culture of the country and we are grateful for his time and enthusiasm in doing this," Morris said.

She said Crowe Horwath and Pitt & Moore hoped to build on this initial step and possibly facilitate practical workshops and interactions around a potentially new market.

Partner at Pitt & Moore and member of the Latin American New Zealand Business Council Michael McMellon earlier said his role within the business council (LANZBC) was to identify how it might help local businesses to raise their profile and level of activity with South American markets generally.

McMellon said business between the two countries was already happening, but even if local businesses got a minuscule percentage of the vast Brazilian market it would be "massive" for Nelson-Tasman.

Nelson a cultural haven

Nelson is ripe for embracing new cultures and Brazil was no exception, Naiane Denardin says.

The Brazilian-born Nelson businesswoman who co-owns the Prince Albert Backpackers Hostel & Bar with Kiwi fiance Michael Walker, said it was a "major" for her to see Brazilian culture exposed in the way it was at the recent festival, in a city like Nelson she described as multi-cultural.

Denardin has been in New Zealand for nine years and came to Nelson two years ago when she and Walker took over the Prince Albert, and turned it into the thriving tourist centre it has become. They also sponsor groups in the community, including Brazilian percussion group Samba de Sol.

Brazilian ambassador to New Zealand Eduardo Gradilone stopped by to see the Prince Albert during his tour of Nelson businesses.

Denardin, who comes from the southern Brazilian port city Porto Alegre and who focused on restaurant and gastronomy studies at university, said Nelson, despite being a small city, was "very open-minded" and had a lot to offer visitors. She said the weekly Nelson Market had "opened a lot of eyes" to its cultural diversity.

She said it was a "safe, clean, lovely town", which offered opportunities for Brazilians, including the option to learn English here.

"English language opportunities were the reason I came to New Zealand. All my friends were going to Australia, and I was not keen on either England or Australia.

"It was more through curiosity I found out about New Zealand, and then discovered its unique Maori culture, so decided to come for a few months to see."

Denardin and Walker plan to marry this October.

- The Nelson Mail

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