Valnei started flirting at cinema at the age of just 17 in his hometown of Salvador, the capital of African culture in Brazil. He started working at events such as the Pan-African Film Festival before he entered university. So he decided to study cinema, with a focus on ethnic documentaries about Brazilian culture – revealing not just poverty and suffering but also the unusual beauty and diversity of his colourful nation.
He was the DOP for the award-winning ethnographic doc Eu Tenho a Palavra (Lilian Solá Santiago, 2010), which was also made during the sultry summer of Salvador. The movie reveals the influence of African dialects on the Brazilian Portuguese language and culture.
He directed his first film in the same year, an investigative doc about mental healthcare: he went undercover into several mental health institutions where inpatients are still treated as prisoners. Vozes da Voz revealed that horror and madness prevailed in such chaotic and inhumane environments. He has since deep-dived into the cause, having run workshops for former inpatients looking to overcome the institutional torture inflicted upon them. He soon started working for other media such as Brazilian television channel SBT. He reported for Folha de São Paulo on the refugee crisis and the Isis War live from the border of Turkey and Syria, and his work was featured in several Brazilian newspapers.
Since 2012, Valnei has visited London and Europe many times, and his work has been featured in the British publications The Prisma and The Brazilian Observer. Psychiatry and human rights have become recurring themes in his work. He is now finishing his first fiction feature movie, which will be finished in 2017. He explains his project: “I decided to embrace fiction because I wanted to bridge the gap between the absurd and the oneiric, which science conveniently camouflages with logic.
What’s more, Valnei has teamed up with DMovies are directed all of our promotional videos, as well as some of our interviews and debate – just click here in order to view them. He will also direct our first feature film – provisionally entitled Globo and the Coup: Just History Repeating – just click here for more.
You can view Valnei’s cinema, photography and media portfolio by clicking here.