Primeira Idade: Producing in creative harmony
by Vitor Pinto
- The new company founded by Joana Gusmão and Pedro Fernandes Duarte is focusing on internationally driven projects by emerging Portuguese filmmakers
After co-producing Daniel Hui’s Snakeskin with Singapore and Jonas Rothlaender’s feature debut, Fado [+see also:
interview: Jonas Rothlaender
film profile], with Germany (read more), Lisbon-based production outfit Primeira Idade now has a line-up bristling with projects set to be directed by emerging Portuguese filmmakers.
Primeira Idade was founded in 2014 by Joana Gusmão and Pedro Fernandes Duarte. Gusmão (34) – who took part in this year’s Berlinale Talents networking platform – previously worked at Terratreme Filmes and produced Salomé Lamas’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, among other titles. Duarte (29) was linked to Rosa Filmes – he produced, for instance, Vítor Gonçalves’ The Invisible Life [+see also:
film profile] and was assistant director to João Pedro Rodrigues on To Die Like a Man [+see also:
film profile]. Last year, they decided to join forces and create a new company that aims to provide promising talents with a platform where they can explore their ideas and develop their projects – all in a collaborative process with the two entrepreneurs, who like to see themselves as “creative producers”.
From shorts to feature-length films, and from fiction to documentary, Primeira Idade’s expanding line-up is eclectic, with a cross-cutting theme: most of the directors have either studied or worked abroad and have then trusted Primeira Idade to produce their internationally orientated projects through forthcoming co-production schemes.
Among those projects is Carlos Conceição’s upcoming fiction film, Coelho Mau, to be co-produced by France’s Epicentre Films. His documentary Serpentário is a co-production with Angola and is soon to enter post-production. According to producer Duarte, Conceição – who presented his short Boa Noite, Cinderela last year at the Cannes Critics’ Week – “is a very prolific director with a real flow of ideas, and he has a very interesting and personal cinematic universe”.
The new documentaries by Margarida Rêgo (A Invenção do Corpo) and Catarina Vasconcelos (Amores Distantes e Pátrias Imaginadas) are also part of the line-up. Rêgo and Vasconcelos graduated from the London Royal College of Art. “It is interesting for us to work with people who do not have a technical background in film,” says Duarte. “They are much more intuitive in the way they shoot.”
Migrar Pelas Sombras, the new project by Diogo Costa Amarante – a graduate from the Tisch School of the Arts in New York – is also currently in development. The goal is to finance it through a scheme combining national public funding and the support of local authorities from the places where the project is due to be shot. The film will focus on a mother-and-son relationship, exploring the characters’ subconscious motivations and the way they surface in their daily lives.
Finally, there is also Mariana Galvão’s Atlas, a film about Lisbon, viewed as a host city for an international community of expats. The project is to be spoken in different languages and shot in several European countries. Spanish, French, Italian and German co-producers are expected to get on board.
So how does such a motivated but rather small team deal with all of these projects? “We spend a lot of time following the writing process,” Gusmão explains to Cineuropa. “Although most of these young filmmakers have shown their first works – shorts, mostly – at international showcases, the underfinanced Portuguese context makes it hard for them to continue; so we like to assure a follow-up and to discuss their views all together. For a recently created company like ours, the writing and development stages are quite important. That’s what allows us, at this stage, to show off what we are likely to do to both funding institutions and potential co-producers. It is a pleasure to see our projects taking shape,” concludes Gusmão.
Despite the obstacles to creating a new production company and to setting up a solid reputation, it is likely that the future of Portuguese film will be partially written by these two entrepreneurs.