Serial Rape Drama ‘Godless John’ Launched by Ventre, Coral, Canal Brazil, TVI (EXCLUSIVE)

CANNES — Framing one of the first independent series co-productions between Brazil and Portugal, Ventre Studio, Coral Europa, Canal Brasil and TVI are co-producing “Godless John,” with Brazilian acting legend Marco Nanini as John of God.

Directed by Marina Person (“California”), the three-part series’ boasts a powerful Brazilian cast which has gained international recognition: Bianca Comparato,  star of Netflix hit “3%,” Karine Teles (“Second Mother”) and Antonio Saboia (“Bacurau”).

Two Portuguese actresses will be confirmed shortly.

Since early development, Ventre Studio has focused on the story’s international dimension, said Paula Cosenza, a producer and partner at Ventre Studio. That is enhanced by Portuguese characters who bring a “foreign perspective.” 

The story itself may be a Brazilian one, but with an international impact and resonance worldwide. 

The fiction series turns on two sisters who reached small town Abadiânia 17 years before João de Deus’ series rape scandal. 

One of them is traumatized by the so-called “spiritual healing surgery”, while the other becomes a faithful collaborator of the medium, claiming to have experienced the miracle of her sister’s healing. She decides to settle in Abadiânia for good. 

“The plot unfolds during the reunion of the two sisters, which culminates in a surprising twist,” a synopsis runs.

“Godless John” is inspired by one of the most notorious cases of sexual abuse in modern Brazilian which saw self-proclaimed medium and psychic surgeon João Teixeira de Faria, known as João de Deus, become the object of over 600 allegations of sexual abuse, including rape and paedophilia.  

Before his arrest, John of God’s healing practices received large international coverage – Oprah Winfrey even visited him in Brazil – though here are few documented cases of patients improving after treatment.  

Lead produced by Ventre Studio, fast consolidating as a Brazilian powerhouse, one key to “Godless John” is its production structure.

Beyond Globo, international TV co-productions are rare in Brazil, Cosenza noted. “Godless John’s” case is even rarer, an independent co-production in which producers retain IP, with the series looking set to be sold on the international market, she noted.

“Co-production is a model worked all over the world, and signing this partnership to take Brazilian content beyond our country, reaching an even greater audience, meets our goals”, said André Saddy, director of Canal Brasil.

“The three protagonists in our series (all female), represent the real women that started the whole scandal: Carmen represents the faith in the healing powers of John of God, Cecília represents the victims of rape, and Ariane (Carmen’s daughter) plays the part of a girl that only realizes she was abused after other women spoke up,” director Marina Person added.

“This first co-production with Brazil is a source of pride for the entire Coral team. We are clearly investing in the path of internationalization and we found in TVI, Ventre Studio and Canal Brasil the ideal partners to accomplish this miniseries about such a current, impactful and socially relevant story,” said. Bruno Santos, managing director of Coral Europa.

The main creative and executive decisions on the series are made by women. 

The production also has the support of Bem Querer Mulher, an initiative for the integral support of women who suffer violence in Brazil, for the sensitive reading of the scripts and on-set support during the most delicate scenes.

“TVI is very happy to be a partner in this co-production that fictionalizes a story of global impact and which will have two Portuguese actresses in the cast,” said Cristina Ferreira, director of fiction and entertainment at TVI.

The series will feature scenes recorded in Portugal, in addition to filming in Brazil.

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