The winner of the 2019 Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts is Portuguese independent film producer, Paulo Branco.
This recognition is given for Mr. Branco’s engagement with new views on cinematographic expressions and his dedicated commitment to cultivating intensive communication and activity between the different fields of culture, such as literature, fine arts and music.
It is a prize granted for his prolific and varied achievements in the dynamics of independent cinema, producing and co-producing with film directors from four continents, constantly open to new ideas, opening new paths and building bridges worldwide, as well as his dedicated commitment to bringing together different fields of culture, such as literature, fine arts and music.
Born in Lisbon in 1950, Paulo Branco is a Portuguese independent film producer. Since 1979 he has produced or coproduced over 300 films, working with Portuguese and international directors from four continents, and often giving the chance of a screen debut to aspiring filmmakers who have gone on to become great cinematographers. His constant openness to new ideas and support for creative figures from all over the globe make him a truly unifying force, whose contribution to the enrichment of cinema is colossal.
According to John Malkovich, Branco is “possibly the most prodigious producer of art films in the history of cinema”, while German director Wim Wenders describes him as “a producer of the kind that has almost altogether vanished: he cares for his films and invests himself personally.” His work entails the arduous job of finding financing for arthouse films, described by Wenders as a “Herculean task”, but one that he successfully achieved, constantly providing alternatives to mainstream production.
Paulo Branco has promoted Portuguese and European cinema at international festivals, where he has also sat on the jury or been its president. Twenty-seven of his films have been included in the Official Selection at Cannes, while 48 have been presented at Venice Film Festival.
In his home country, he has also facilitated access to culture by distributing films and building cinema theatres. He is the Director and founder of the Lisbon & Sintra Film Festival, which he founded in 2007. Fostering dialogue between cinema, literature, music and the visual arts, this encounter supports reflection and debate on the great issues of our times. Every year Paulo welcomes some of the world’s greatest film directors (such as Francis Ford Coppola, Bernardo Bertolucci, Pedro Almodovar), writers, actors, artists and musicians, among others. His commitment to independent cinema in Portugal has helped to bolster its position on the cultural map of the world.
During his 40-year career, Branco has been awarded numerous accolades for his work, including “Greatest European Producer” by the European Parliament in 1997, the “Gabriela Mistral Order” – the highest distinction in Chile in 1998, the first Premio Raimondo Rezzonico (The Best Independent Producer Award) at the Locarno Film Festival in 2002 and the Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettres de la Republique Francaise, France, in 2004 and the CINEUROPA Award in 2014.
The work of Paulo Branco has made a huge contribution to furthering the aesthetic horizon of cinema, in Portugal and worldwide, as well as broadening the cultural formation of audiences and the public in general.