He founded the studio Olhar Electronico with a group of friends in the 80s.
He was a member of the jury of the 29th São Paulo International Film Festival, held in São Paulo, Brazil, from October 21st to November 3rd 2005.
As of 2006, Meirelles is rumored to be in the running to direct yet another espionage film, a biopic about notorious international terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Spanish actor Javier Bardem is slated to star in the film, set for release in 2007.
He is one of the partners of o2 Filmes, the biggest Brazilian ad producer, which also produced City of God, Maids and Viva Voz.
City of God was released in 2002 and received an American release in 2003 by Miramax Films.
He was also nominated for Golden Globes' Best Director in 2005, for his first international film, The Constant Gardener. He lost against Clint Eastwood, director of Million Dollar Baby.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for Directing in 2004 for City of God. He lost to Peter Jackson who won it for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Meirelles: If you do a film with a high budget, people want to control it. Marketing people tell you what to do, and where to cut, so they can get their money back. I am more interested in doing smaller films that I can control.
Meirelles: I never stop working on a film. I can't help myself.
Meirelles: This is the part that I like most, in the process, is to edit and try to find the story. Sometimes you think you have a film, and then you change something and it becomes different. It's a wonderful job. Because it surprises you.
Meirelles: Harvey Weinstein liked City of God from the beginning. He didn't want to change anything. When the film's release was done, he called me to say, "This film deserves more than it got, and we're going to spend money and do a campaign, and we're gonna get nominations". From the business side, it was a bad experience, but I would do it again. I don't think I signed a good contract. I didn't really believe in the film. It was a low-budget Brazilian film in Portuguese, what can a film like this do? Harvey liked the film more than I did. They paid exactly what was on the contract.
Meirelles: (About The Constant Gardener) In Kenya, the faces of the people, the colors, I wanted to bring as much of the landscape to the screen as I could... That's why I thought we should shoot in Kenya with a small crew - you just turn the camera around, and the real thing is happening here. If you do it big - lights, crew - you turn around and there's only crew, and it affects everything all around.
Meirelles: (About Ralph Fiennes' performance in The Constant Gardener) Ralph deserves an award for this performance. He's so relaxed, so natural. We're used to seeing Ralph Fiennes as cold, rational. Here he's lighter. He brings a humanity to the role. He's played a lot of edgy characters. Here he plays an average character.
Meirelles: (About the comparisons of City of God and Pulp Fiction) Pulp Fiction is quite different from City of God because Tarantino uses violence as an amusement, something funny and spectacular. City of God does the opposite. When you watch my film, you don't want to be part of these gangs. I think there's a certain morality there. Every time I had an opportunity to show violence I tried to avoid showing it on purpose. I don't think crime is glamorized in the film.
Meirelles: (About the themes of hopelessness and redemption in City of God) For the drug dealers, there's no hope. There's no way out for them and, in the end, they all die. Rocket represents hope in the film. He's a blend of Paulo Lins, someone who was raised in City of God and became a known writer, and his friend Rocket, who became a photographer.
Meirelles: (About the impact of City of God) The film was such a hit in Brazil because of all the debates it provoked. I've been to a lot of universities and unions with the film. Lula (Brazil's president, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva) came to me and said that my film changed his policies of public security. It was great to hear that.
Meirelles: (About The Constant Gardener) I did want to expose the pharmaceutical industry a bit... The industry promotes itself very well. I think the film helps people see it in a different way, not through its press releases.
Meirelles: (On the pharmaceutical industry) But at the same time, they are very powerful and extremely profitable, because they produce these great pills. It is the second most profitable industry in the world. Just arms manufacturers, who only kill people, ironically are the only industry more profitable than drugs.
Meirelles: We're supposed to capture what's in the air and give a form to it. The artist is like an antenna, always searching for new ideas and ways to express them.