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Culture

Oliveira, a lifetime of filmmaking

Latest update : 2008-12-11

Manoel de Oliveira, the world's oldest film maker, will be 100 years old December 12. The one for whom "to stop my work means to die" is shooting his latest film in Lisbon.

AFP - When Portugal's Manoel de Oliveira turns 100 on Friday, the world's oldest filmmaker will be doing what he loves most: shooting a movie -- in this case his 46th feature-length film.

"To stop my work means to die," said Oliveira, who was born December 11 but marks his birth in line with his official registration on earth the day after.

His latest film, "Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura" -- roughly "The Uniqueness of a Young Blond-Haired Girl" -- is adapted from a tale by Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, considered Portugal's greatest realist writer.

It recounts the story of Macario, a young man -- played by Oliveira's grandson Ricardo Trepa -- who confides his passionate love for a blond-haired girl to a stranger on a train.

It's "on the idea that one can confess to a stranger things one would not tell a friend or a spouse," he said.

Far from fast-paced, Oliveira's films have often baffled the general public but left movie buffs raving -- and he has walked off with repeated prizes at major festivals like Cannes and Venice.

In May he was awarded the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes for his entire body of work, which spans silent films to talkies and survived the country's long-time, right-wing dictatorship.

With his trademark felt hat and piercing gaze, the centenarian is shooting his latest film in Lisbon's elegant Chiado district.

"He knows exactly what he wants but like most directors he has lots of ideas that come to him in a flash and he improvises a lot during the shooting," said Catarina Wallenstein, who plays the leading female role.

And he is a man in a hurry. He wants to wrap up the movie quickly -- not because of age but so it can compete in the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

"I only rest when I shoot," said Oliveira who has made 20 of his stable of feature-length films since turning 80.

 

Date created : 2008-12-11

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