Brazil, a regular on TIFF’s big screen

By Ingrid Coifman & Rosana Dias

The 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, brought out the international media and powerhouse names, including Bono, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, and Madonna. Screening over 336 films from 65 countries and having nearly 400,000 attendees, last year’s Festival showcased five Brazilian movies, including Fernando Meirelles’ 360 (check out his interview with DB). “Brazilian films explored an elaborate cinematic language in their approach to the diversity of Brazil’s culture, both past and present,” says Diana Sanches, International Programmer at TIFF.


Fernando Meirelles: Filmmaking at its best

By Ingrid Coifman


Director Fernando Meirelles: “I need to have butterflies in my stomach”

Brazilian Fernando Meirelles is one of the cinema’s finest filmmakers. After his ground breaking work in ‘City of God’ (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director), he not only brought massive international attention to Brazil’s war on drug dealers in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, but earned a permanent, prestigious spot among the most influential movie makers in the industry.

In his most recent project, ‘360’, he reunited with Rachel Weisz, from the ’The Constant Gardener’, movie that was produced in 2005 and received many award nominations, including a Golden Globe for Meirelles as Best Director, and an Oscar for Weisz.

Last fall, ‘360’ had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), bringing together a stellar cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Ben Foster in a series of interlinking stories between couples in cities such as London, Vienna, Rio, and Denver. We got a chance to ask the director what drew him to this project.


Discover Brazil – After working in breathtaking movies, denouncing poverty, social exclusion, did you feel any pressure to continue working on similar productions?

Fernando Meirelles – There’s no direct pressure, because I’m a very independent movie maker. I always feel free to choose what I want to shoot, although there were many invitations to make movies with these themes. I look for different experiences on purpose.

DB- Are super productions easier to direct than projects such as ‘360’, where you get to work with more intimate subjects and multilayered characters?

FM – I always feel more motivated and alive when I’m doing something that I don’t know how to do at first. Although I take risks, and might not always get it right, I’d rather not repeat a successful formula tried before. I need to have butterflies in my stomach. Maybe this movie was the best shooting experience I’ve ever had in my life. It’s good to be able to work with actors without having to worry about huge production matters, such as having to dynamite the Louvre Museum, for instance.

DB- What was your approach to working with such a great team of actors?

FM – The little screen time for each character was a challenge. It was almost impossible to build complex characters and develop each one of their stories deeply. The movie is about how our lives are interconnected and the possibilities that connection brings. From a director’s point of view, this type of project, although very challenging, is very fulfilling.

DB- Which stories have interested you lately?

FM – There’s no pattern. Recently I read ‘Solar’, by British author Ian McEwan, and got very interested in the theme. I’d love to work as a director in a comedy movie, especially focusing on the lives of seniors. I want to make movies in Portuguese, in which I can completely understand what I’m doing.


Go to for more information about director Fernando Meirelles.




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