As a way of introducing you to some amazing people working in the fields of artist moving image, experimental film and alternative cinema, we have concocted a short questionnaire. Today we speak to Maria João Madeira, film programmer at Cinemateca Portuguesa.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Maria João Madeira. I work as a film programmer at Cinemateca, the Portuguese Filmmuseum, in Lisbon. It involves seeing, programming, writing about films, organizing retrospectives and catalogues. For some years now I’ve been translating films and essays, mostly about cinema but not only. I had some very enjoyably intense experiences translating novels.
2. What was the first film you remember seeing as a child?
In a movie theatre, it was Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I remember it well. By then, I already knew some passages of Disney’s classic movies by seeing them repeatedly in Super 8 home projections, such as The Three Little Pigs and Big Bad Wolf, which I loved. And of course a lot of home movies, also in Super 8mm film.
3. What was the last film you watched and what did you think of it?
It was Jia Zhang-ke – A Guy from Fenyang, by Walter Salles (2015), which has just been released in Portugal. It’s a portrait of the contemporary Chinese filmmaker by the Brazilian filmmaker that highly admires his work, commissioned for the long run French series “Cinéma, de Notre Temps”, although it hasn’t been presented as such due to its 105’ length, and since Salles didn’t make a shorter second version for that purpose. I found it a delicate portrait stressing the importance of geography in Jia’s films, and relating it with his own path and the convulsive changes in contemporary China.
4. How did you become interested in working with cinema/moving image?
It just naturally happened. I always remember being an interested viewer and I guess I became a cinephile by seeing films as they showed in the theatres, in television, in a cinema club I attended. When I studied communication in college, studying subjects on film history and theory and specially a whole term on Fritz Lang’s films, I realized that journalism wasn’t my “thing”. Cinema was.
5. Tell us about a film that has had a profound effect on you?
I must quote three. As a young teenager, Godard’s Pierrou le fou, which I first saw in ecstasy in a local movie theatre in Lisbon, returning for other screenings in the days that followed. It really changed the way I saw and thought about cinema. Let’s say, for the “emotion”. As a young adult, Renoir’s Partie de campagne; Lang’s Man Hunt. It continued.
6. Favourite books about cinema/moving-image/filmmaking?
The ones that immediately came to my mind are Hitchcock/Truffaut; Buñuel’s Mi Último Suspiro; Paul Schrader’s Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer; Serge Daney’s La Rampe.
7. What would be your dream double-bill, two films you’d love to see together on the big screen?
I will answer in retrospective: I do program some double-bill screenings in the course of the regular double-bill series that the Cinemateca presents each month since 2015. I particularly liked to pair Antonioni’s Il Grido and Satyajit Ray’s Kapurush; Murnau’s Sunrise and Coppola’s One from the Heart; Siodmak/Ulmer’s Menschen am Sonntag and Renoir’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe; João César Monteiro’s Sophia and Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud; Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings and Godard’s Adieu au Langage; Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong then and Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place; Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers and Jean Eustache’s Mes Petites amoureuses.
8. Which filmmaker/artist are you most obsessed with, the one whose work you return to again and again?
I can say that I’m always waiting to see the next Godard film, and that I return again and again to Ozu’s films.
9. What are you currently working on/what projects do you have coming up?
I’m currently waiting for the publication of a Chantal Akerman book collecting the Cinemateca’s programmers texts on her films that I’ve been working on. I’m working on several film series, including a Hong Sang-soo retrospective.