Portugal's Oliveira cranking out the films at 100

Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:22pm EST
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By Axel Bugge

LISBON (Reuters) - The grand old man of Portuguese film celebrated his 100th birthday on Thursday by starting production of his latest film.

For an industry preoccupied with youthful glamour, it is perhaps hard to imagine how Manoel de Oliveira can actually make films at all. But the hearty centenarian appears to have few secrets to his longevity other than a passion for film.

"This is the only day of the week that I rest," he told journalists on Saturday, when he interrupted his busy schedule to give a rare press conference.

Asked what his secret was to keep going at 100, he responded with dry wit: "It is work. The rest is eating, drinking sleeping, doing what other people do."

The man, who is feted like few others in his native Portugal, made his first film 77 years ago -- a 30-minute documentary about life on the Douro River.

Since then he has directed nearly 50 films and received numerous decorations, including two Golden Lions in Venice and a Golden Palm for his lifetime achievements this year in Cannes.

Most people would slow down with age, but Oliveira has done the opposite. Since 1990, he has made at least one film a year and there is no end in sight to his plans.

Last year he finished Christopher Columbus - the Enigma, a story which suggested Columbus was Portuguese. Oliveira and his wife also acted in the film.   Continued...

<p>Portuguese director Manuel de Oliveira gestures during a news conference in Lisbon December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro</p>