Interview with André Marques, director of Grandpa

Grandpa is the chronicle of a day like any other, as nothing truly eventful takes place. It is just a day in the life of a man that takes care of his grandson, watches him play football, eats dinner with him and puts him to bed. And yet, even if it might look like just a sequence of mundane events, that day feels so special and beautiful.

Marques chooses not to have any dialogue and totally focuses on the grandpa from morning to night, a journey that feels simultaneously that of a single day and that of a lifetime, from being a little boy on a football pitch to an elderly man on the bus home.

Grandpa has no major events, twists in the tale or special effects, but just follows a man during a normal day of his life. How do you tell a story like that and keep it compelling for the viewers? 

“Less is more”, it’s usually said, and I think that can be the case with Grandpa. I knew that due to the 60 seconds nature of the film I had to be objective with the flow of the narrative and the relation between the grandfather and his grandson (which I wanted both endearing and subtle), ultimately knowing that choosing meaningful over magnificent was the way to go. 

Even without being overly sentimental, Grandpa can be quite moving. Is it important for you to transmit emotions with your work?

Not much is there to be gained in any art form if it does not provoke some sort of an emotional reaction from the spectator. One thinks in togetherness with what one feels, and I wanted to get both from the audience. Grandpa has the ability to be easily related to, even if you didn’t experience having your grandparents around while growing up or if you’re not a parent or such, since it's the idea of someone taking care of someone, and the intrinsic responsibility and love that must exist in such relation, that comes across in the end.

There are no women in the film. Was this a conscious choice? If so, what are the reasons behind it?

Yes, it’s true that there no women in the film and it's indeed a conscious choice. In a way, I wanted the audience to focus more on the social and generational side of the relationships seen on the film (grandfather/grandson - father/son) than I wanted to make any sort of statement on gender, even though it’s clear that it’s something that is felt as well. Socially, Grandpa is very much in touch with the Portuguese (and I dare say - European) society nowadays, where the economic crisis of the last years intensely demand more work for less income and people have to manage themselves daily way better and help each other out when needed. 

Are you working on any other projects? What's next for you?

Well, my feature project The Drunk (O Bêbado) has just been selected for Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College Cinemadevelopment program, one of the 12 projects selected this year, so I’ll be in Venice in October for a couple of weeks with Rodrigo Areias, who also produced my multi-awarded short film Luminita that is now on cinemas in Portugal.

On the other hand, I’m at the pre-production stage of my next short-film, which is sort of a prequel to The Drunk, again with BRO (the production company who produced Grandpa with me) and we’re currently looking for some needed funds to film it this year. Does anyone want to help?

You can find more about me and my work at

17 September 2014, by Chiara Puntil