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A voyage to find the meaning of life in O Sentido da Vida


- The new film by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, co-produced by Fernando Meirelles, will continue shooting over the next few months during a journey to various places around the world

A voyage to find the meaning of life in O Sentido da Vida
Portuguese director Miguel Gonçalves Mendes and Giovane Brisotto, who co-stars in O Sentido da Vida together with a number of leading figures from various fields (© Agência Lusa)

This week, Portuguese director Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, accompanied by a small crew, embarked upon a trip to Kochi, India, by boat. The journey, which forms part of the shoot for his new documentary, O Sentido da Vida (lit. “The Meaning of Life”), constitutes the first leg of a nine-month voyage to visit a number of places around the world, without taking a single aeroplane.

The movie co-stars Giovane Brisotto, a 28-year-old Brazilian who has a degenerative disease called familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP), a hereditary condition that has inspired him to question the meaning of life. It is expected that part of the route that Brisotto will follow over the next few months will be the same as that taken by the Portuguese sailors who made the journey over 500 years ago, when they spread the disease that he now suffers from.

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The aim of the film is to tell the story of the encounters between the young Brazilian and various leading figures from different fields and, using that as a starting point, thus reflect on the meaning of life. Featuring among the myriad figures who are taking part in the project – and who have already shot a number of scenes – are Portuguese writer Valter Hugo Mãe, Icelandic musician Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, Japanese costume designer Emi Wada and Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón. Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen is also expected to take part in September.

For the last two years, Mendes has been living in Brazil, preparing the film, which is a co-production between Portuguese outfit JumpCut and Brazil’s O2 Filmes, owned by director Fernando Meirelles (City of God).

O Sentido da Vida, a title that brings to mind Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, marks the return of the Portuguese director, following the much-lauded José e Pilar [+see also:
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 and the webseries/docu-fiction Não Tenho Nada de Meu, which he made with Brazilian writers João Paulo Cuenca and Tatiana Salem Levy. 

O Sentido da Vida is scheduled for release in 2017, after which the Portuguese director will get his teeth into another challenging project: the adaptation of the novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, by Nobel Prize in Literature-winning author José Saramago.


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(Translated from Spanish)

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