Life on the Douro – Done

Done! I came back home three weeks ago with plenty of new material, great interviews with Fladgate Partnership chairman Alistair Robertson, Paul Symington and Dirk Niepoort, and edited non-stop to get the finished film out to the Douro Film Harvest. The film’s narrative structure was already in place, but with some gaps, and I needed Alistair Roberston to give me a quick run-down on The Fladgate Partnership history, and Dirk Niepoort to give me an overview of the Douro Boys, an association of five producers, and their marketing effort. Instead, Alistair gave me about an hour and a half of material and Dirk’s interview was an hour long. Dirk was also the last of some 27 participants lending their viewpoints to Life on the Douro, fittingly, as he ends the film.

I had met Gustavo Devesas, who works for Symington’s, at Oscar Quevedo’s wedding, and he told me that an interview with Paul Symington was a must, that he would tell me some great stories. I hesitated as I already had far more material than could reasonably fit into the documentary, but decided that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity, and came away with an hour’s worth of stories and insights. As with so many of the interviews, it could almost serve as the basis for a film in itself.

Natasha Bridge, wine blender at Fladgate, gave an overview of the different styles of Port, and Antonio Agrellos, wine maker at Quinta do Noval, talked about their recent efforts to complement the winery’s previous three centuries as told by Cristiano Van Zeller and Jose Allen (see my previous post for that story).

I didn’t even have time to go through all the new material, just went straight to those parts I needed the most, basically Alistair on his company’s history, Dirk on the Douro Boys, how they function and what is needed to promote the region, and Paul about his childhood adventures in what was once a much wilder Douro valley.

I worked for 18 long days straight, got it out just in time for the deadline, and now the film will have its premiere at the Douro Film Harvest festival on September 6, and I’m thinking about what to do with all the extra material that I have. I could do a series of extras and/or an extended version and/or a video installation. When I go back for the screening, it’s tempting to film a few more things that I missed. There’s always a few more things to capture, especially in the Douro, so the film’s finished, but the story isn’t.


Alistair Robertson


Paul Symington


Natasha Bridge


Dirk Niepoort

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3 Responses to Life on the Douro – Done

  1. Axel Probst says:

    Dear Zev,

    outstanding, looking much forward to watch your movie with a good glass of port.



  2. Antonio Fernandes says:

    Hi Zev, it sounds amazing! Very curious to watch the film. I’m traveling in the North of Portugal would you recommend any wine tasting tour?

    Best Regards


  3. zev says:

    Thanks, Antonio. Outside of Roy Hersh’s tour, I don’t know any tasting tours, but there are the Douro boat tours that go up the river and stop in different places, and then there are the lodges/warehouses in Gaia. I’m not sure about visits to some the smaller wineries, but I know that Quevedo does receive visitors in their winery in Sao Joao da Pesqueira. I think Crasto also has guest rooms.

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