The Portuguese Take over the Berlinale

Ruben Demasure of the 2016 Berlinale Talent Press interviews Portuguese producer Pedro Fernandes.

Pedro Fernandes

Berlinale Talent and Portuguese producer Pedro Fernandes Duarte has a cameo in his compatriot, Gabriel Abrantes’ film FREUD AND FRIENDS. Screening in Berlinale Shorts, the film travels inside the brain of artists and filmmakers and documents their dreams. Similarly, Duarte tries to access the minds of the creatives of his country for us and discusses why they are in the spotlight in record numbers at this year’s Berlinale. With four features and four shorts – one in the main competition, two competing shorts, and the others in Berlinale Forum – he says that it’s a sign of “a film scene achieving a certain maturity.”

Duarte notes a paradox in this year’s Portuguese invasion. Of the eight that have films in the festival, most of them live abroad. Only Abrantes and Salomé Lamas, represented in the Forum with ELDORADO XXI, currently reside in the country. Because of the crisis, almost half of the young population has emigrated, Duarte explains.

He and his partner, Joana Gusmão, are among the few young producers in the country. With Primeira Idade, they founded a new, independent production company. Previously, the twenty-nine year old was working for Rosa Filmes, producing work by his former film professors. Now he wants to make an impact by helping emerging filmmakers.

Another paradox Duarte highlights is although the Portuguese are present at prestigious festivals, the country’s film industry is disadvantaged by the fact that there’s almost no national funding. In November 2015, all budgets were frozen because of the financial crisis, but now, the Ministery of Culture is solving the problem because of the popularity of Portuguese films at the Berlinale.

An older generation of filmmakers was praised by prominent film critics but their films weren’t at international festivals. The major change Duarte sees is that the country now has professionals that know how festivals work. Until the 1990s, Portuguese producer Paolo Branco was the only exception. Being the European producer that has produced the most feature films, this living legend is present at the festival with Hugo Veira da Silva’s Forum film, AN OUTPOST OF PROGRESS. Duarte concludes that he wants to preserve the tradition with new and young voices.