You Know The Way An Experience Through Portuguese Short Films [01/02/2018]

The experience of watching films should make us travel to new worlds, real and imaginary, exploring senses through images and sounds. Seeing alone is not enough, films need to be felt to make sense.The fluffy filter bubble is there to be appreciated: sweet and heartwarming pictures of cats and kittens on social media create an irresistible parallel reality – but what about taking risks nonetheless?

Portugal Film, the Portuguese Film Agency created four years ago, chose from the start to assume such risks with the films – shorts and features - it represents. It took an idea of Portuguese cinema and its most iconic filmmakers and stretched its limits, presenting new authors, new genres, and bold hybrid approaches to cinema by young directors. Our goal from the start was to show the world that there was a generation of young Portuguese directors with a word to say.And in doing so we selected every year a small but diverse quantity of films that would account for it. 

The programme presented here as well as the three other shorts represented by Portugal Film in competition at this festival are an example of such choices and of the path taken from the start. A Caça Revoluções, a short film by Margarida Rêgo, was the first film we represented – a school film (The Royal College of Art) that through pictures and their manipulation tells the story of the Portuguese Revolution through the eyes of someone who is too young to have lived it and yet wishes to capture its spirit through the memory of an older person. The eleven minutes film was selected to Cannes’ Quinzaine des Réalisateurs less than a month after it premiered in IndieLisboa – International Independent Film Festival and since then it has been presented in over 30 festivals worldwide. First risk taken proved to be a success!

The following films in this presentation have in a way or another been chosen for showing that idea of risk and of stepping a bit further. Aula de Condução, by André Santos and Marco Leão, was the first film we took by these two young directors who have always worked together and are known for their unique beautiful images and a sort of obsession with a non-narrative narrative line. Even though the two of them have never been to film school – the usual path towards filmmaking in Portugal – their qualities have been widely recognized, and the film has been shown in major international film festivals. The following short of these directors - Pedro (here in competition) - was the first ever Portuguese short film to have been selected for the competition of Sundance Film Festival and that has changed the course of the film, giving it and the directors great new chances.


Freud und Friends the film that follows directed by Gabriel Abrantes, and L’Oiseau de la Nuit by Marie Losier, which closes the programme, have both premiered at Berlinale (Competition and Forum Expanded respectively) and are two of the four shorts commissioned by IndieLisboa – International Film Festival to celebrate its 10thanniversary. On that occasion, the festival invited four directors who had previously been awarded at IndieLisboa to film their experience of Lisbon. These two films proof that a city can be perceived beyond the obvious and even beyond sanity. Whereas Gabriel Abrantes decided to portray a lunatic and hilarious scientific experiment where Werner Herzog (pardon, HernerWerzog!) is implanted in a young man’s brain and he hears fish singing in a gospel choir, Marie Losier sees queer mermaids by the river and human animals dancing in the jungle to the sound of Alan Vega.

In the middle of the programme a five minutes animation film also from the Royal College of Art: Limoeiro by Joana Silva deals with memory and the physicality of abandoned places; and Despedida, by Tiago Rosa-Rosso a director who films performance in a cinematic way and very little technical resources, invites us to hold our breath while the sun finishes to set and we wait for that last dive of the day and of the summer.

The ninety minutes programme aims to take the viewer through an experience of film, of Portuguese cinema beyond the obvious, of shorts films that can be seen for what they are: films. The experience should be as in Peter Murphy’s song Cuts You Up: You know the way / It throws about / It takes you in /And spits you out. May you come out of it feeling like you’ve been through something.