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Manoel de Oliveira (b.1908) is considered the greatest Portuguese film director of all time. Oliveira, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2008, directed around fifty films over seven decades, keeping up with the main technical, social, political and aesthetical changes in cinema, something unique in the Portuguese and international artistic scene.

During the first Curtas Vila do Conde, we presented a special programme dedicated to Oliveira’s career. It included the documentaries “Douro, faina fluvial” (1931), “Famalicão” (1940), “O Pintor e a Cidade” (1956), “O Pão” (1959), “As Pinturas do meu Irmão Júlio” (1965) and the fiction short “A Caça” (1963). Manoel de Oliveira himself contributed to this selection with his statement to the magazine “Filme” “I would like to hint, in my documentaries, to a certain transcendence for the spiritual, filming events in a very plain way”. With this statement Oliveira leads us to presume an essentially Portuguese temperament with a spiritual nature.

In 1995, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema and during the third Curtas Vila do Conde, Manoel de Oliveira joined a panel of speakers, which also included Gus Van Sant, to discuss contemporary cinema. More recently, in 1997, during Alexander Sokurov’s retrospective, Oliveira attended the Festival to watch the Russian director’s films. During this special programme, Oliveira video recorded a 3 hour conversation with Sokurov about cinema, art and religion which was later presented during the tribute Oliveira received in 2000 at the Turin Film Festival.

In 1997, Curtas Vila do Conde created the Manoel de Oliveira Documentary Prize that he sponsored.