Alexandre Cebrian Valente • Producer
by Vitor Pinto
From auteur films to O crime do Padre Amaro [+see also:
film profile] - the most successful local title ever in the Portuguese box office -, the career of producer Alexandre Cebrian Valente (born in Lisbon, 1968) seems to want to leave behind tight film industry categories to take on new ambitious - or as he would prefer to call them - "utopian" productions.
Cineuropa: Can you tell us about your career before you opened your own production outfit, Utopia Filmes?
Alexandre Valente: I began working in production in the early 1990s, first in advertising and then I saw my dream of working in Portuguese film come true. I had the chance to work with some of the most interesting filmmakers and production directors, both at national and international level. I was a production director in some films, which were considered "difficult projects" and I was an executive producer of some TV series, both for public broadcaster RTP and private channel SIC. I was also responsible for the SIC Filmes project, and then in 2004 I decided to create my own company called Utopia Filmes. I believed it was possible to create an alternative system of production in Portugal. One of Utopia's projects was O crime do Padre Amaro.
O crime do Padre Amaro became the most seen Portuguese film in history. Can you tell up how the financing and production of the film came about?
Manuel Fonseca, SIC's former head of programming, contacted me in order to produce a TV series based on the novel by Eça de Queirós. I accepted the challenge on March 4, 2005 and we quickly decided not only to make a TV series but a feature film as well. We did everything in seven months: adapting the novel to modern-day life, creating parallel plots to attract a young audience, making a soundtrack with the most recent world music trends, putting together a great cast and the best crew, preparing the trailer, the making of, the TV series, the DVD… The film opened in the Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), in Lisbon, on October 20 2005. Lusomundo distributed it with 30 prints. From the adaptation to the exhibition, it was the quickest process in the history of Portuguese film.
O Crime... is a very different project (more commercial) than the other auteur films you have previously worked on (Oliveira, Pedro Costa...). What kind of film do you intend to produce for Utopia Filmes?
Utopia Films aims to be a young and alternative outfit. We want to be known for our creativity and competence, for believing in projects and for managing to produce films without the need to wait for financial backing or complex schemes. We want to produce different types of projects and be autonomous. We have both a creative department and all the postproduction means in order to make all our "utopias" come true.
Which directors would you like to work with?
I would love to continue working with Manoel de Oliveira, as I admire him and there is a friendship which connects me to him and his films. Portuguese directors, I would like to work with include João Canijo, Tiago Guedes and Frederixo Serra, but I would also like to meet the Cohen brothers, Kusturica, Benigni, Marco Tullio Giordana, Fernando Meilleres, Walter Sales, Almodóvar, Amenabar, Klapisch, Wong Kar Wai, Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Bergman, Eastwood, Saura and all those who believe in their projects and defend them right to the end. I might get the chance to work with some of them… (laughs)
What do you expect from your participation in the "Producers on the Move" initiative?
First of all I have to thank ICAM for this nomination. Once I am in Cannes, I would like to meet other dynamic "utopian" producers, able to create synergies, challenges and co-produced with Utopia Filmes.
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