Fernando Meirelles Biography

Fernando Meirelles photo

Born: November 09, 1955


Date of Birth: November 9, 1955

Hailed as Latin America's Martin Scorsese, Fernando Meirelles was born in São Paulo, Brazil. While studying architecture at the University of São Paulo, he began to develop an interest in filmmaking. Along with a group of friends, he produced experimental videos. They formed a company called Olhar Electrônico, and the team became well known after winning awards at Brazilian film festivals.

The company moved from experimental videos to producing TV programs for Brazilian television stations in the 1980s. Eventually, Meirelles began working in celluloid film and moved into directing television commercials. In the early '90s, together with Paulo Morelli and Andrea Barata Ribeiro, he opened the O2 Filmes production company.

His first feature was the family film Menino Maluquinho 2: A Aventura (1998), known as The Nutty Boy 2 in English. It won an Honorable Mention as Best Feature for Children at the Cartagena Film Festival. His next feature, Domésticas (2001), exposed the invisible world of Brazilian maids and their secret dreams and desires. The film won the Grand Prix at the Toulouse Latin America Film Festival and earned Meirelles Cinema Brazil Grand Prize nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay.

Next, he co-directed the short film Golden Gate (Palace II) (2002), which won Best Short Film at the Aspen Shortsfest, the Panorama Award of the New York Film Academy at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Canal Brasil Acquisition Award at the Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema, the Grand Prix at the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Best Short Film award at the Stockholm Film Festival.

When a friend gave him the novel City of God to read with the idea that he would turn it into a film, Meirelles was initially reluctant because he knew the book "was about the beginnings of drug dealing in Rio de Janeiro, a violent story, without hope," he recalled in an interview. But partway through, he began to underline sentences and make notes on possible filming locations. Meirelles decided he wanted unknown actors and auditioned 2000 youngsters from poor areas of Rio de Janeiro. The first six months were spent improvising scenes, and the actors ended up creating about 70 percent of the dialogue.

The film was a huge success in Brazil and began to attract attention around the world after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival. City of God (2003) has won awards from film festivals and societies all over the world, as well as four 2004 Oscar nominations, including a Best Director nod for Meirelles.

Although he receives numerous Hollywood offers, Meirelles often turns them down in order to shoot independent films. The closest he's come to making a big budget Hollywood film was Blindness (2008), made for $25 million and starring Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

A few years later, he directed Rachel Weisz—whom he had previously hired for his thriller The Constant Gardener (2005), as well as Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins, for his film 360 (2012). He reconnected with Hopkins when the time came to cast the Netflix drama The Two Popes (2019).

Fernando is married to Ciça Meirelles, who can be seen briefly in his film Blindness. The couple have two children.


360 (2012)
Blindness (2008)
The Constant Gardener (2005)
City of God (2003)
Domésticas (2001)
Menino Maluquinho 2: A Aventura (1998)

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