Fernando Meirelles was born in a middle class family in São Paulo City, Brazil.
He studied architecture at the university of São Paulo. At the same time he developed an interest in filmmaking. With a group of friends he started producing experimental videos and video art. They won a huge number of awards in Brazilian video festivals. After that, the group formed a small independent company called Olhar Eletrônico.
After working in independent television during nine years, in the eighties, Meirelles gravitated towards publicity and commercials. He also became the director of a very popular 180 episodes of a children’s television show called Ra Tim Bum.
In the early 90s, together with Paulo Morelli and Andrea Barata Ribeiro, he opened the O2 Filmes production company which became the biggest production company in Brasil working from development until distribution, including complete post-production facilities.
His first feature,in 1998, was the family film “Menino Maluquinho 2: A Aventura”. His next feature, “Domésticas” (2001), exposed the invisible world of five Brazilian maids in São Paulo and their secret dreams and desires.
In 1997 he read the Brazilian best-seller “Cidade de Deus/City of God”, written by Paulo Lins, and decided to turn it into a movie despite an the intimidating story that involves more than 350 characters. Once the the screenplay, written by Bráulio Mantovani, was ready, Meirelles gathered a crew mixed with professional technicians and inexperienced actors chosen between the youngsters living in the favelas surrounding Rio de Janeiro.
The film was a huge success in Brazil and began to attract attention around the world, after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. “Cidade de Deus/City of God” (2003) has won nore than 50 awards from film festivals and societies all over the world, as well as four 2004 Oscar nominations, including a Best Director for Fernando Meirelles.
Since 2002 , Meirelles has split his time between international feature and TV series in Brazil. The Constant Gardner (2005,) had four Academy nominations plus four Golden Globes. Blindness (2008) opened Cannes. 360 (2011) opened the LFF. In the same period he directed several series for TV Globo and HBO in Brazil.
In addition to cinema, Meirelles directed Bizet’s opera , Pearl Fishers, and was one of the directors of the 2016 Olympic opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2019 Meirelles finished The Two Popes, for Netflix, and start filming a scientific documentary on the soil.
Apart from cinema, Meirelles is also a farmer. He plants sugar cane, coffee, palm heart, avocado, and mahogany. He is developing ways to produce organically n large scale. Agroforest is his bet.
In the next few years, his plan is to be involved in projects related to the environmental crisis and climate emergency. Meirelles is not optimistic about the future of our species and, in a shorter period, neither in the future of his grandchildren, which is very sad. —
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