The most european of all producers
by Bénédicte Prot
- He, whom the Cinémathèque in Paris already called 'the most european of all producers' in 1992, during a tribute entitled 'Bravo Branco'agreed to meet us during the last Berlinale
Paulo Branco, producer and more, was born in Lisbon in 1950. He studied chemistry at university but started cinema in 1974 as a programmer at the Olympic, managed by Frédéric Mitterrand. In 1979, he became a producer. He has now produced over 110 films and worked with famous directors such as Raoul Ruiz, Manoel de Oliveira, Wim Wenders, João Botelho, Chantal Akerman, Philippe Garrel, Patricia Plattner, or Laurence Fereira Barbosa. He, whom the Cinémathèque in Paris already called ‘the most european of all producers’ in 1992, during a tribute entitled ‘Bravo Branco : the most european of all producers’, has extended his activities to include distribution. Besides his work as a producer in Lisbon (Madragoa Filmes) and Paris (Gemini Films) where he also works as a distributor and an exporter, he is Portugal’s second best exhibitor and distributor (Atalanta Filmes and Medeia Filmes). Paulo Branco is well-known for his commitment to European cinema and quality productions. He agreed to meet us during the Berlinale to talk about Andre Valente [+see also:
interview: Catarina Ruivo
interview: Paulo Branco
film profile] and about his carrier.
Cineuropa: How long did it take to finance and make Andre Valente?
Paulo Branco: Not long. Six months. It is a small budget, financed mostly with Portuguese money from the ICAM and the national channel RTP. As for guaranteed minimum, I took care of it through my distribution company, Atalanta Filmes.
You really play a role at all stages of a movie’s carrier. Yes. When I created Spider Pictures in England, I realised this American system does not make it possible for an independant producer to be more than a talent discoverer and to have real power. Well, what I missed there is exactly what is essential to me : choice and freedom at all stages.
How involved are you in artistic matters —in the case of Andre Valente for exemple?
It changes every time. Each film is an adventure of its own. In the case of Andre Valente, I made remarks to Catarino Ruivo after the editing, that is, I gave her as much trust and liberty as I claim for myself as a producer. Films usually proceed from interesting encounters and meeting minds.
What do you think are the current tendencies in Portuguese cinema?
It is difficult to talk about tendencies in a countries wherer 8 to 10 films only are produced every year. It is worth noting, however, that at least half of them are quality productions, which makes our cinema all in all very interesting. This being said, I don’t feel I am a Portuguese producer as much as just a producer, a European producer.