Born in 1964. He first studied law. He later studied cinema at Escola de Cinema do Conservatório Nacional, where one of his teachers was António Reis. Worked with Paulo Rocha, Jorge Silva Melo and Vítor Gonçalves.
His first full-length, HAIRCUT debuted in Festival de Locarno in 1995. All of his movies were in the main international cinema festivals, where he received several awards.
He is also a direction teacher in cinema course at Lisbon Theater and Film School (Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema). He is Rosa Filmes' founder, which produced full-lengths of João Pedro Rodrigues, Vítor Gonçalves, Alberto Seixas Santos, Manuel Mozos and Manuela Viegas, as well as videos of Julião Sarmento.
POLICEWOMAN debuted in Berlin Festival in 2003. BOSNIA DIARIES debuted in Busan Festival in 2005. His last movie, THIS SIDE OF RESSURECTION debuted in Toronto Festival in 2011 and was considered one of the best movies of the year by Film Comment, Lumiére and Museum of Moving Image’s magazine.
In 2014 and 2015, Joaquim Sapinho was the co-founder of the cinema cycle Harvard at the Gulbenkian – Dialogues about Portuguese film and world cinema, organized with the colaboration of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the University of Harvard.
In 2016, Joaquim Sapinho was invited along Apichatpong Weerasethakul to create an installation for the inauguration of the MAAT museum, the new contemporary art museum of Lisbon. The installation, which had Alexandre Melo’s curatorship, was named Liquid Skin and had place in the Boiler’s Room of the former Lisbon’s electricity factory.
In 2018, Sapinho was the Summer Guest of the Gulbenkian Museum and created an installation, with art pieces from the reserves of the Gulbenkian Collection, in the Modern Art Collection building.