Fernando Meirelles

Fernando Meirelles

Birth name: Fernando Ferreira Meirelles
Born: November 9, 1955
Age: 68
Birthplace: São Paulo, Brazil
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Fernando Ferreira Meirelles (born November 9, 1955) is a Brazilian film director, producer and screenwriter. His best known film is City of God, released in 2002 in Brazil and in 2003 in the U.S. by Miramax Films, which received international critical acclaim. For his work in the film, he was eventually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director in 2005 for The Constant Gardener, which garnered the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress to Rachel Weisz. He also directed the 2008 adaptation of José Saramago's novel Blindness, and the 2011 film 360.


Early life

"A great tragedy for the family. For a long time, it was a taboo. No one mentioned it. I was four when it happened, but I still remember him."

Meirelles about his brother's death.

Meirelles' father, José de Souza Meirelles, is a gastroenterologist who travelled regularly to Asia and North America (among other regions of the world), which gave Fernando the opportunity for contact with different cultures and places. His mother, Sônia Junqueira Ferreira Meirelles, is the daughter of farmers and worked with landscape architecture and interior design for a long time. Fernando is the second youngest of four children. He saw his older brother, José Marcos, die in a car-bike accident when he was only 4 years old. His two sisters, Márcia and Silvinha, graduated in theater and psychology, respectively. Fernando grew up in Alto dos Pinheiros, district of the West Zone of São Paulo, and spent every vacation on the farms of relatives from both sides of his family. "Even I have a farm. I don't know why I bought it.", he says.

His first experience with cinema was with his father, who often directed 8 mm films during his job at the university. He produced mostly western and thriller parodies, using his relatives and friends as actors. At 11, in 1967, Fernando spent a year in the United States in California, where he had contact with the hippie movement, which impressed him. At 13, with a borrowed Super 8 camera, Meirelles started producing small films, inspired by Norman McLaren's animations.


He studied at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of São Paulo during the 1980s. His graduation work was done in the form of a film, instead of the traditional designs of the other students: he went to Japan and bought professional video equipment to do the job. He presented it and graduated with the minimum acceptable grade.

While studying architecture at the University of São Paulo, Meirelles became involved in experimental film-making. After several years in independent television, he became an advertisement film director. He is still one of the partners of O2 Filmes, the biggest Brazilian advertisement firm, which has produced City of God, Domésticas (Maids) and Viva Voz.

Along with four friends (Paul Morelli, Marcelo Machado, Dário Vizeu and Bob Salatini), Meirelles began his career with experimental films. Eventually, they formed an independent production company Olhar Eletrônico. Subsequently, new friends joined the group: Renato Barbiere, Agilson Araujo, Toniko and Marcelo Tas. In 1982 the company aired TV programs on current affairs, as well as the children series Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum (Ra-Tim-Bum Castle), with 180 episodes. In addition to obtaining high ratings, they also introduced a refreshing humorous informality in news reporting.

By the end of the 1980s, he became increasingly interested on the advertising market. In 1990, Meirelles and friends closed down Olhar Eletrônico, opening an advertising business, O2 Films. One decade was enough for him to become one of the most important and sought-after advertising producers.

In 1997, Meirelles read the book Paulo Lins's City of God. He decided to adapt it to film, which was done in 2002, and decided that the actors in it would be selected among the inhabitants of slums. In a final triage, from 400 children, they selected 200, with whom they worked for the shooting of the film. The filming was done with a professional crew. The film was a national and international success.

In 2004, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for City of God. Also, at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, the movie received four nominations: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

With the recognition, he was offered a job in Hollywood. With The Constant Gardener, he again received critical acclaim, receiving several nominations, including for four Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Rachel Weisz went on to win the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Meirelles insisted that the soundtrack be based on the music of African countries, and most of the filming was done in Kenya.

In 2007, he began shooting Blindness, a film adaptation of Nobel-prize winner José Saramago's book, Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira. The film, which was released in 2008, was the opening film of the Cannes Film Festival.



Year English title Original title
1998 O Menino Maluquinho 2 O Menino Maluquinho 2
2001 Maids Domésticas
2002 City of God Cidade de Deus
2005 The Constant Gardener O Jardineiro Fiel
2008 Blindness Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira
2011 360
2011 Brasil Animado (voice)
2012 Elena (executive producer)
2014 Rio, I Love You Rio, Eu Te Amo


Year Title Issuer Notes
1983 Ernesto Varela, o Repórter Rede Globo
1989 Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum TV Cultura
2013 A Verdade de Cada Um National Geographic Channel Producer
2013 Os Experientes Rede Globo
2015 Felizes para Sempre? Rede Globo Director

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2002 Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best Screenplay Maids Nominated
2003 BAFTA Awards Best Film Not in the English Language City of God Nominated
2003 Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best Film City of God Won
2004 Academy Awards Best Director City of God Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Director The Constant Gardener Nominated
2006 BAFTA Awards Best British Film The Constant Gardener Nominated
2006 BAFTA Awards Best Direction The Constant Gardener Nominated
2008 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Blindness Nominated
2009 Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Best Film Blindness Nominated
2012 ACIE Awards Special Tribute N/A Won

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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