“There is no secret – it is work! It is doing something, it is a natural impulsion,” Manoel de Oliveira once answered when asked about what keeps him going. “You see, nature has given man hunger and this forces him to work, otherwise he wouldn’t do anything. We all get hungry, no matter what age you are. Therefore the elderly are not distinguished from the young because they are both hungry. Standing still is to die; that is the point. The worst thing would be to do nothing, to be scared of acting. It would be a mistake to stand still, to not try something.” And while the director sadly passed away today at the age of 106 years-old, he never for a moment stopped doing what he loved.
The Portuguese director had spent over eight decades making films, starting with documentaries before moving into features. Some of his early works weren’t well received, and for a moment, de Oliveira abandoned moviemaking altogether. But it wasn’t a long break, and in the ’50s and ’60s he was back behind the camera on a number of projects. However, it wasn’t until the the 1970s when de Oliveira started working at a prolific rate, at an age when most people begin thinking about retirement. He split his time between features and documentaries, earning numerous accolades, including two career Golden Lions from the Venice Film Festival, and an honorary Palme d’Or from Cannes (he also won a Jury Prize in 1999 for “La Lettre” in addition to FIPRESCI and Ecumenical Jury prizes for “Voyage to the Beginning of the World” in 1997).
The director’s last feature film was “Gebo et l’ombre” in 2012 (he made a handful of shorts after this), and you might’ve seen efforts like “The Strange Case Of Angelica” or “Eccentricities Of A Blonde Hair Girl” on the arthouse circuit in recent years. And while de Oliveira has left us, there is a tremendous body of work waiting to be discovered and re-discovered in the years ahead.
Below are a variety of videos, including his debut short documentary “Douro, Faina Fluvial,” and an excerpt from Wim Wenders‘ “Lisbon Story.”