Fernando Meirelles was born in a middle class family in São Paulo City, Brazil.
He studied architecture at the university of São Paulo. At the same time he developed an interest in filmmaking. With a group of friends he started producing experimental videos. They won a huge number of awards in Brazilian film festivals. After that, the group formed a small independent company called Olhar Eletrônico.
After working in independent television during nine years, in the eighties Meirelles gravitated towards publicity and commercials. He also became the director of a very popular children’s television show.
In the early 90s, together with Paulo Morelli and Andrea Barata Ribeiro, he opened the O2 Filmes production company. His first feature, in 1998, was the family film “Menino Maluquinho 2: A Aventura”. His next feature, “Domésticas” (2001), exposed the invisible world of five Brazilian maids in São Paulo and their secret dreams and desires.
In 1997 he read the Brazilian best-seller “Cidade de Deus/City of God”, written by Paulo Lins, and decided to turn it into a movie despite an intimidating story that involves more than 350 characters. Once the screenplay, written by Bráulio Mantovani, was ready, Meirelles gathered a crew mixed with professional technicians and inexperienced actors chosen between the youngsters living in the favelas surrounding Rio de Janeiro.
The film was a huge success in Brazil and began to attract attention around the world after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. “Cidade de Deus/City of God” (2003) has won awards from film festivals and societies all over the world, as well as four 2004 Oscar nominations, including a Best Director for Fernando Meirelles.