Producer on the Move 2010 - Portugal
by Vitor Pinto
João Figueiras graduated from the Lisbon Film School in 1996 and two years later founded the production company O Som E A Fúria with Sandro Aguilar. He produced over 20 shorts and Miguel Gomes' feature debut The Face You Deserve with O Som E A Fúria before venturing out solo with a new outfit, Blackmaria.
Cineuropa: When was Blackmaria established and what have been its main titles so far?
João Figueiras: Blackmaria was created in 2005. We produced the short film China China by João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, which was part of Cannes’ Directors Fortnight in 2007, among other international showcases. I also produced and directed the short Urban Landscape With Girl and Plane, which was awarded at the IndieLisboa festival in 2008 and also screened at Pusan and Turin.
Blackmaria has also produced a TV series about Portuguese comic books, which was broadcast on the second public television channel. Now, we just finished Civil War, the feature debut of Pedro Caldas, which is currently in competition at IndieLisboa.
You have mainly directed and produced short films so far. Any plans to move towards features? Any projects you could share/co-produce with the other Producers on the Move in Cannes?
Yes, now I am working on the fiction feature named The Castaway, which I will direct myself, and on the feature documentary The Last Time I Saw Macau, from the same directors of China China, João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata.
Besides its production activities, Blackmaria is also linked to Filming In Portugal. Can you tell us about this project? What services does it provide?
Filming In Portugal is a production service that promotes principal photography of foreign productions in our country. It is a service that covers the needs of the technical crews, equipment, logistics and so forth. Portugal has a very nice climate and the best light in Europe. We are also very friendly.
Yours was one of the signatures of the recent Manifest of Portuguese Cinema. In your opinion, what is the biggest potential of Portuguese cinema and what are its biggest obstacles, which currently prevent that potential from being fully realised?
The main trait of Portuguese cinema is its diversity, which expresses itself through a great variety of ideas and the style of its filmmakers. However, that potential finds several obstacles, the main one being a lack of political interest regarding access to reliable funds. Furthermore, Portugal is small market and audiences tend not to be necessarily open to local productions.
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