After his experience in TV, Fernando Meirelles’s youngest son prepares to direct a feature film

Quico Meirelles will debut as a feature film director with Pssica

By Alessandro Giannini

12/23/2017 4:30 am Updated 12/24/2007 1:32 pm

Quico Meirelles won the Audience Award for Best Animated Short Film at the Anima Mundi Film Festival – Edilson Dantas

SÃO PAULO – The cineaste Fernando Meirelles used to joke that his youngest son Francisco, Quico, would be a chef when he grew up. The youngest son of the director of City of God (2002) and Blindness (2008), today at the age of 29, has not only contradicted his father, but has also followed in his footsteps. After winning the Audience Award for the Best Animated Short Film at the Anima Mundi Film Festival in July for “Unraveling the Ocean’s Veil,” this young man is now finally going to debut as a feature film director.

– Ever since he was little, Quico has been an aficionado of good food, but I never thought this would become his profession. Working for people who are hungry, owning a restaurant for example, is very stressful. Making films and cooking just at home will be a much more relaxing life for him – says the elder Meirelles, who’s currently working on the feature film The Pope, which is being produced by Netflix and deals with the relationship between Pope Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI.

Quico, who isn’t tranquil at all, is going to debut as a director by adapting the novel Pssica by Edyr Augusto, a journalist from Pará, which was published in 2015 by Boitempo. The novel, whose title is regional slang for someone who has been cursed, tells a story of crime, prostitution and revenge involving characters including an adolescent who is kidnapped and sold as a sex slave, and an Angolan immigrant. The plot unfolds in Belém, the Island of Marajó and French Guiana.

– I don’t know of any Brazilian film that reveals this universe, which is unknown to a large part of this country, especially to us in the Southeast – he tells us, sitting in one of O2’s offices in São Paulo. – Reading the book, that’s what struck me most. It’s a very rich world visually, very beautiful and at the same time very cruel because of the violence. I think this is why my father decided not to do it. His schedule had something to do with it, of course, but I think he’s had enough of dealing with violent subjects.

For now, the year 2018 will be dedicated to the development of this feature film, with the casting – which will include selecting actors from the region of Pará – and other steps being put aside for now. The first task, says Quico, will be to find an appropriate narrative form to bring Janelice to the screen while maintaining the vertiginous pace of Augusto’s novel.

– The dramatic structure of the novel is very interesting and very literate – he tells us. – Each chapter, consisting of four or five pages, is dedicated to a character. The way this guy writes is like a machine gun; there’s a lot of action. In the first few pages, the protagonist is kicked out of her home and raped three times. We’re trying to determine the best structure to turn this into a film, as well as the best way to translate the experience of reading the book to the screen.


The novel Pssica will be adapted by Braulio Mantovani and Fernando Garrido. The participation of Mantovani, who debuted as a screenwriter with City of God, has a special significance for him:

– To have my first film written by Braulio is really cool, because he understands dramatic structure and the construction of a universe.

Quico will be surrounded by other familiar faces as well during his first experience as a feature film director. The executive producer of Pssica, Andrea Barata Ribeiro, one of the partners at O2, has known him since he was in his mother Cecilia’s womb. It was Andrea, in fact, who read the novel (based on a recommendation by producer Bel Berlinck) and suggested that O2 adapt it to the screen.

– When I suggested this project to Quico, he said: “I haven’t read it, but I’ll do it,” – she remembers. – Of course afterwards he read it and became very enthusiastic about its possibilities.

It’s not surprising that Quico has opted for cameras instead of pans. He’s been on the set since his earliest days, playing a baby in his mother’s lap and a child who runs past the camera. He has also worked with his father on the feature films Blindness (2008), Som e Furia (Sound and Fury) (2009) and 360 (2011), and earned a credit as photographer Adriano Goldman’s assistant in Xingu (2011) by Cao Hamburger. His resumé also includes the creation and direction of various commercials, such as the ones featuring the redheaded boy for Vivo and the famous Ipiranga Service Station campaign, as well as TV series such as The Wise Ones produced for the Globo Network, which was nominated for an International Emmy last year.

– I think that he’s naturally been influenced by his father in his choice of profession – evaluates the senior Meirelles, who gained a grandson named Valentim from Quico and his wife costume designer Jade Koury four months ago.