Joao Costa Menezes, a London-based film actor and film director, was born in Porto, Portugal. Over the course of his career, he has also lived in Paris, Barcelona and New York City.
Joao Costa Menezes grew up during Portugal's "Carnation Revolution," a military-led coup d'etat which began in Lisbon on 25 April 1974 and ended almost 50 years of dictatorship in Portugal. The revolution has had a lasting impact on Menezes's political and artistic views. The year following the revolution was punctuated by social anarchy and power disputes between left and right wing political forces - a time which Menezes often refers to as utopian. The chaos was live and real. It was the most exciting period of his life: the tanks, the clashes between people and police forces in the streets, freedom borne out of chaos, and the pervasive sense of empowerment and fear. Joao Costa Menezes remembers all of this as a powerful moment, in stark contrast to the general social apathy that democracy eventually brought.
It was his desire to follow in the footsteps of the revolution that led Joao Costa Menezes to undertake a law degree at the University of Coimbra, renowned as the font of the intellectual currents underlying the revolution. As such, played an active part in university life and politics, and was part of the board of Coimbra's infamous student union. This was the same union that organized groups of students to coat the streets and sidewalks of Coimbra with soap so that mounted police would have a hard time chasing them down to break their demonstrations in 1968. In the early 90s, when the government tried to introduce tuition fees, the student's union fought back with a series of protests that paralyzed Lisbon. As a result, the government capitulated and the Minister responsible for the bill was forced to resign his position.
After attaining a degree in law from the University of Coimbra, Menezes worked as a lawyer in Portugal for three years, before becoming disillusioned by the criminal justice system. Following his decision to abandon legal practice, Joao Costa Menezes moved to London, in 1998, to seek a career in the film industry.
As an actor, Menezes first appeared in the BBC series Sunburn, in 1999, starring opposite Sharon Small as a Portuguese fisherman named Luis. In addition, he performed stunts on Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and played a Roman Soldier in Ridley Scott's Gladiator. In June 2005, Menezes got his Unarmed Rapier and Dagger Certification from the British Academy of Stage & Screen Combat. Joao Costa Menezes also completed voice-over work in his film, Serial Killer, and for Apple Inc.'s advertising campaign in Portugal in 2007.
However, it is his own work as a filmmaker for which he is most proud. In London in 2000, he directed, produced and starred in Zero, his first short film. It was awarded a special prize at the Huesca Short Film Festival in Spain. In 2001, he directed his first feature film, Akasha, a no-budget film shot in video, which was distributed in Russia and nominated for the Méliès d'Argent. Akasha premiered in the U.S. at the Atlanta Film Festival. In 2004, Menezes directed his first music video, Melancholic Ballad (for the Left Lovers), for the popular Portuguese band, The Fingertips, which went to number one on Sic Radical, a music television station. Pedro Abrunhosa, a top Portuguese musician, was quoted in Magazine das Artes saying "[Menezes is] a weapon of mass construction," who "seeks the unreachable horizon of the tireless navigators of dreams. He shoots with a hunger for the knowledge of the moment as if it was possible to make love, pain, desire and fear eternal." In 2007, he directed the short film Remember My Dream, with the English model Jakki Degg. In 2008, he directed Mulheres, Bah! - a short film with London's West End singer and actress Madalena Alberto - which premiered at the Fantasporto Film Festival and was presented at the 2008 Cannes Short Film Corner.
Name: João Costa Menezes
Known for: Akasha