PROFILE
Name:
Walter Salles
Birth Date:
April 12, 1956
Birth Place:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality:
Brazilian
Famous for:
His film 'Terra Estrangeira' aka 'Foreign Land' (1996)
BIOGRAPHY
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Central Station

Background:

“I come from a country and also a continent whose identity is in the making. We're a very young culture and I think that things are not yet crystallized so the films that are made in our latitudes, I think, carry that sense of urgency. It's as if the people that you meet on the street and the stories that they bring can influence you directly.” Walter Salles

Brazilian born director, writer and producer Walter Salles is a major filmmaker in Brazil. Starting out in documentaries, he began receiving notice with the internationally hailed “Foreign Land” (1995) before enjoying a breakthrough with “Central Station” (1998), which won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, a National Board of Review for Best Foreign Film and a BAFTA for Best Foreign Film. He went on to direct the critically acclaimed films “Behind the Sun” (2001, nabbed a Little Golden Lion at the 2001 and 2002 Venice Film Festival), “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004, netted a BAFTA Award, an Imagen Foundation Award, two Cannes Film Festival Awards and a Hollywood Film Festival Award) and “Linha de Passe” (2008, earned a Golden Palm nomination). Salles released his first English language feature film, which is also his first Hollywood film, with the horror remake “Dark Water” (2005), which was unfortunately a box office flop. He is scheduled to return to Hollywood with the film “On the Road” (2011). His producing credits include “City of God” (2002), “Hermanas” (2005) and “Eye of the Storm” (2009). Salles has worked with fellow Brazilian director and writer Daniela Thomas several times.

Salles was among the 105 people invited to join the 2008 AMPAS. He became a member of the jury at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2002 the Cannes Film Festival. In 2003, he ranked No. 23 on the U.K. newspaper “The Guardian” list of “The 40 Best Directors in the World.”

Salles is a fan of car racing and mentions Emerson Fittipaldi, a former Indy and Formula 1 champion, as his idol. Salles competed in the Brazilian GT3 championship and is the father of one son.

“I'm completely uninterested in what you may call a career in film making. I'm much more interested in living specific experiences in films.” Walter Salles


Waltinho

Childhood and Family:

The son of Walther Moreira Salles, a banker and ambassador, and Elizinha Goncalves, Walther Moreira Salles Jr., who would later be popular as Walter Salles, was born on April 12, 1956, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was raised in France and the United States, where his father served as a Brazilian ambassador, before his family settled in Brazil when he was a teenager. His mother died in 1988 and his father passed away on February 27, 2001. Walter, whose nickname is Waltinho, has two brothers named Pedro (born 1959) and Joao (born 1962) and a half-brother named Fernando Roberto (born 1946) from his father's first marriage. With Joao, who is also a filmmaker, Walter founded the production company Videofilmes.

One of the three heirs to the bank Unibanco, one of the biggest and most affluent banks in South America, Walter majored in economics at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Rio de Janeiro. He later attended the University Of Southern California School Of Cinematic Art in Los Angeles, California.

Walter is married to Maria Klabin. They couple had a son they named Vicente in July 2006.


The Motorcycle Diaries

Career:

“I think I turned to documentary film making very early on as a way to know a little bit more about my country and my roots. My father was a diplomat for part of his life and I jumped from country to country and culture to culture. So when I was very young, I longed for Brazil. I really wanted to know the heart of it much better than I did.” Walter Salles

Walter Salles began his career as a documentary filmmaker in the early 1980s. He won various awards in the field before making the transformation to feature films with the 1991 thriller “A Grande Arte” (“Exposure”), an adaptation of the novel “High Art” by Rubem Fonseca, who also wrote the screenplay. Starring Peter Coyote and Amanda Pays, the film won two awards at the 1992 São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards. However, after the debut, Salles' film career was slowed down as the result of economic trouble in Brazil. Despite the problem, he chose to stay in Brazil and remained active by making documentaries for European television.

In 1995, Salles made his successful return to the cinematic industry with “Terra Estrangeira” (“Foreign Land”), an action film he co-directed and co-wrote with Daniela Thomas. For their effort, the two picked up the APCA Trophy for Best Screenplay (Melhor Roteiro) at the 1996 São Paulo Association of Art Critics Awards, the Silver Daisy Award, the Grand Prix for Foreign Film at the 1996 Entrevues Film Festival and the Golden Rosa Camuna from the 1996 Bergamo Film Meeting. Salles also edited the film with Felipe Lacerda. The year also saw Salles direct, edit and write the documentary film “Socorro Nobre” (“Life Somewhere Else”), which is a story of a woman inmate who becomes inspired by the story of Polish artist Franz Krajcberg and begins writing him.

Salles gained further recognition with his next movie, “Central do Brasil” (“Central Station;” 1998), a drama about a young boy's friendship with a middle-aged woman. Premiering at the 1998 Berlin International Film Festival, the film, which was adapted by Marcos Bernstein and João Emanuel Carneiro from Salles' story, was a breakthrough success for the director and helped rejuvenate Brazilian film. Starring Fernanda Montenegro and Vinícius de Oliveira, the film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film (Brazil) and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Montenegro) and won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, among other international awards. Salles won a BAFTA Film for Best Film not in the English Language, a Golden Berlin Bear and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Competition at the 1998 Berlin International Film Festival, and a Golden Satellite for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language, to name a few. Salles was also reunited with Daniela Thomas to co-write and co-direct the drama “O Primeiro Dia” (“Midnight”), the Brazilian contribution to “2000 Seen By…,” a series of millennium themed films commissioned by French television. The film brought the two a 2000 Silver Ariel (Mexico) for Best Latin-American Film (Mejor Película Iberoamericana), the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize for Best Director (Melhor Diretor) and Best Screenplay (Melhor Roteiro).

After a three year absence, Salles returned to the director's chair to helm Rodrigo Santoro and José Dumont in “Abril Despedaçado” (“Behind the Sun;” (2001), a drama which he also co-scripted with Thomas that was produced by Arhur Cohen. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Salles won a Little Golden Lion at two consecutive Venice Film Festival in 2001 and 2002, a Silver Daisy, Havana Film Festival awards for Best Director and House of the Americas Award, and a BAFTA nomination for Best Film not in the English Language. “Behind the Sun” received a limited release in the United States.

In 2002, Salles co-directed (with Thomas) the award winning short “Guns and Peace,” which won a Camério for Best Short Film at the 2003 Carrousel International du Film, and another short film, “Castanha e Caju Contra o Encouraçado Titanic.” He also produced the films “Madame Satã” and “City of God.” Two years later, he directed Gael García Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna in “Diarios de motocicleta” (“The Motorcycle Diaries”), a coming of age movie about a young medical student named Ernesto Guevera who would years later become internationally known as the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004 and was released to positive reviews. It won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Salles won two Cannes Film Festivals for Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and François Chalais Award, a BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language, a Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Foreign Language Film, an Imagen Foundation for Best Director - Film and a Premio ACE for Best Director.

Salles, however, did not make his Hollywood debut until 2005 with “Dark Water,” a remake of the 2002 Japanese film of the same name. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Tim Roth, John C. Reilly, Dougray Scott and Ariel Gade, the horror film earned mixed reviews and did not perform well at the box office. The film was nominated for a 2005 Teen Choice in the category of Choice Summer Movie. The same year, Salles also produced the Argentina picture “Hermanas,” which was a success, and the Brazilian film “Lower City,” by Sérgio Machado.

In 2006, Salles joined directors Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Joel and Ethan Coen, Gerard Depardieu, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Nobuhiro Suwa, Alexander Payne, Tom Tykwer and Gus Van Sant to contribute to “Paris, je t'aime” (“Paris, I Love You”), a two hour film consisting of eighteen short films. Salles directed the segment “Loin du 16e.” He also produced “Surely in the Sky,” by Karim Ainouz, and co-produced “Born and Bred,” by Pablo Trapero (both also 2006).

After directing “A 8 944 km de Cannes” (“5,557 Miles From Cannes”), a segment of “To Each His Own Cinema” (2007), a French anthology film commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, Salles produced, co-directed and co-wrote (with Thomas) “Linha de Passe.” Starring Sandra Corveloni, João Baldasserini, Vinícius de Oliveira, José Geraldo Rodrigues and Kaique Jesus Santos, the film brought Salles and his partner a Palme d'Or nomination, a Cinema Brazil Grand Prize nomination for Best Director, Grand Coral - Second Prize at the 2008 Havana Film Festival, a Jury Award for Best Director at the 2009 Prêmio Contigo Cinema, and a Prêmio Qualidade for Best Director, to name a few. He also directed “Voyage,” a segment of “Stories on Human Rights” (2008) and produced the documentary “Café de los maestros” (2008), as well as the films “Lion's Den” (2008) and “Eye of the Storm” (2009), by Eduardo Velente.

Recently, in 2010, Salles served as a producer on the film “The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell,” Sérgio Machado's adaptation of a novel by Jorge Amado. He also serves as an executive producer for the Jose Rivera upcoming film “Calestina” and is set to return to the American cinema with “On the Road” (2011), an adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel of the same name. Francis Ford Coppola will produce the film and the cast will include Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams.


Awards:

  • São Paulo Association of Art Critics: APCA Trophy, Best Film (Melhor Filme), “Linha de Passe,” 2009

  • Prêmio Contigo Cinema, Brazil: Jury Award, Best Director (Melhor Diretor), “Linha de Passe,” 2009

  • Havana Film Festival: Grand Coral - Second Prize, “Linha de Passe,” 2008

  • Prêmio Qualidade, Brazil: Best Director (Melhor Diretor), “Linha de Passe,” 2008

  • BAFTA: Best Film not in the English Language, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2005

  • Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Foreign Language Film, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2005

  • Imagen Foundation: Imagen Award, Best Director - Film, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2005

  • Premio ACE: Cinema - Best Director, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2005

  • Cannes Film Festival: François Chalais Award, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2004

  • Cannes Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2004

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood World Award, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2004

  • Norwegian International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2004

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Diarios de motocicleta,” 2004

  • Carrousel International du Film: Camério, Best Short Film, “Guns and Peace,” 2003

  • Havana Film Festival: Best Director, “Behind the Sun,” 2002

  • Havana Film Festival: House of the Americas Award, “Behind the Sun,” 2002

  • Silver Daisy Awards, Brazil: Silver Daisy, “Behind the Sun,” 2002

  • Venice Film Festival: Little Golden Lion, “Behind the Sun,” 2002

  • Venice Film Festival: Little Golden Lion, “Behind the Sun,” 2001

  • Argentinean Film Critics Association: Silver Condor, Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “Central Station,” 2000

  • Ariel (Mexico): Silver Ariel, Best Latin-American Film (Mejor Película Iberoamericana), “O Primeiro Dia,” 2000

  • Cinema Brazil Grand Prize: Best Director (Melhor Diretor), “O Primeiro Dia,” 2000

  • Cinema Brazil Grand Prize: Best Screenplay (Melhor Roteiro), “O Primeiro Dia,” 2000

  • BAFTA: Best Film not in the English Language, “Central Station,” 1999

  • Satellite: Golden Satellite, Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language, “Central Station,” 1999

  • Spain Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Language Film, “Central Station,” 1999

  • São Paulo Association of Art Critics: APCA Trophy, “Best Director (Melhor Diretor), “Central Station,” 1999

  • São Paulo Association of Art Critics: Best Film (Melhor Filme), “Central Station,” 1999

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Berlin Bear, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Competition, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Havana Film Festival: Award of the Havana University, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Havana Film Festival: Glauber Rocha Award - Special Mention, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Havana Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, “Central Station,” 1998

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Central Station,” 1998

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Jury Award, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Silver Daisy Awards, Brazil: Silver Daisy, “Central Station,” 1998

  • Bergamo Film Meeting: Golden Rosa Camuna, “Terra Estrangeira,” 1996

  • Entrevues Film Festival: Grand Prix, Foreign Film, “Terra Estrangeira,” 1996

  • Silver Daisy Awards, Brazil: Silver Daisy, “Terra Estrangeira,” 1996

  • Sundance Film Festival: Cinema 100/Sundance International Award, 1996

  • Sundance Film Festival: NHK Award, For “Central do Brasil” (Latin America, Brazil), 1996

  • São Paulo Association of Art Critics: APCA Trophy, Best Screenplay (Melhor Roteiro), “Terra Estrangeira,” 1996

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