Manoel de Oliveira dies at 106

Portugese president and prime minister join tributes to director.

by Amber Wilkinson

The Satin Slipper
The Satin Slipper
Film director Manoel de Oliveira has died at the age of 106.

Manoel de Oliveira with his Berlinale Camera award in 2009
Manoel de Oliveira with his Berlinale Camera award in 2009 Photo: Volkmar Otto/Courtesy of Berlinale
The Portugese filmmaker directed his first film - a silent documentary - Labour On The Douro River back in 1931 and went on to make more than 50 movies during his 84-year career. He is unusual in that the freqeuncy of his work increased markedly once he reached his 70s - largely because he faced censorship and a lack of funding during the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar for 30 years. He continued to work until last year, directing at least three films after he notched up his century.

He vied for the Palme d'Or at Cannes five times and was awarded an honorary Palme in 2008 for "blending aesthetic contemplation and technological innovations". Oliveira, who was a strong French speaker and made several films in French, including The Satin Slipper and Belle Toujours, was also awarded the country's Legion Of Honour.

Gebo And The Shadow, his last feature, was released in 2012. His short film, The Old Man Of Belem, screened at Venice last year - with the festival honouring him twice for his career (in 1985 and 2004). He also received the Berlinale Camera in 2009.

Portuguese president Anibal Cavaco Silva said Portugal "has lost one of the greatest figures of its contemporary culture." The country's prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho said Oliveira "was a central figure in the international projection of Portuguese cinema and, through films, of Portuguese culture and its vitality".

He is survived by his wife, Maria Isabel and four children.

Oliveira once said: "The cinema began like a fairground curiosity and little by little mobilised the artists who worked in the industry by transforming it into an artistic expression. This is how it acquired its true longevity - I do not say ‘eternity’ for nothing is eternal here below. But as long as man lives, the cinema will live, just like the theatre, painting and literature."

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