João Pedro Rodrigues was born in Lisbon two years before the student revolution of May 68 and nine months before the Revolution of the Carnations, the popular and military uprising that ended Salazar’s long dictatorship. At age of eight, he was given a pair of binoculars, he discovered his passion for ornithology and decided to become a biologist. He loved going to the countryside and watching the birds. But at age 15 he fell in love with another free and bird-like discipline: filmmaking. One of the most complete archives in Europe ate at Cinemateca Portuguesa, in Lisbon, where as a teenager JPR spent many afternoons watching all kinds of classic cinema. Here he learnt much of what he knows today.

JPR graduated in 1988 at the Lisbon Theater and Film School, but he still did not feel ready to start filming seriously. Previously, he had worked as an editor and assistant director for filmmakers such as Pedro Costa, Manuel Mozos, Rita Azevedo Gomes, Maria de Medeiros or Teresa Villaverde. Between 1997 and 1998 he directed his first videos: the documentaries “Esta é a minha casa” and “Viaje à Expo” and the short fiction film”Parabéns!”, his first LGTB film. While making these pieces he begins his personal and artistic relationship with João Rui da Mata (JRM): right hand, left hand, actor, decorator, artistic director or co-director of JPR’s works.

His first feature film, “O fantasma”, premiered at the official competition in Venice festival, inm2000. Its premiere in Portugal left a trail of good international critics and several scandals. It couldn’t have been otherwise, as it was one of the most personal, visceral and promising debuts of European cinema in general and queer cinema in particular.

It was not until 2005 that he presented his second film “Odete”, at Cannes festival. “Odete” tells the story of a woman in love with a young gay man who dies in an accident. She gets “pregnant” after masturbating on his grave. Despite the synopsis, it is a movie about love, desire and the absence of the loved one (three recurring themes in his career). With this film he came to Bilbao for the first time to take part in Zinegoak.

Four years later he returned to Cannes with “Morrer como um homem” (2009), a music-free musical drama, a “classic” transsexual, transgender, transfictional, transversal tragedy, a Homeric odyssey starring the mother to an homophobic son who must reverse her sex change due to a silicone-related general infection that is pushing her to die as the man she is not. In 2010, JPR returned to Bilbao to compete in the seventh edition of Zinegoak.

Between films, JPR and JRM co-directed the short film “China, China” (2007), the first of his “Asian films”. The joint venture continued in the feature film “A última vez que vi Macau” premiered in 2012 at Locarno festival, where it received a special mention from the jury. Back in Locarno in 2016, an international jury presided by Arturo Ripstein recognized his talent and awarded him with the Best Director Award for his latest film “O ornitólogo”. With this last piece, JPR delves into the art of metamorphosis, confusion and surrealism. Humans and animals, past and present, life and death, pain and eroticism, reality and imagination are the dualisms that pervade “O Ornithologist”, a consciously dreamlike film about apocalypse, mysticism, atavism and homosexuality.

For his untiring and relentless quest to find new ways for old renewed contents, for his inciting and provocative standpoint, for all he has done, and for all that is yet to be  done, we give the Zinegoak Honorary Award 2017 to João Pedro Rodrigues.


21 FEBRUARY / 12:00/ ART HOUSE ZINEMA (BilbaoArte)/ FREE