Doc on Nobel Laureate Saramago a small-scale hit at home
by Vitor Pinto
10/12/2010 - Miguel Gonçalves Mendes’ documentary José e Pilar [trailer] has attracted 11,300 viewers in the first three weeks on release, to become the first documentary by a Portuguese filmmaker to achieve such admission figures in a short period of time.
Although paling by comparison to the other territories, these numbers come as good news in Portugal, as the film takes fourth position on the box office chart of local films released in 2010. According to ICA data, José e Pilar follows António Pedro Vasconcelos’s A Bela e o Paparazzo (98,792 admissions), Fernando Fragata’s Contraluz (83,724) and Raoul Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon [trailer] (11,550).
José e Pilar also became the third most successful domestic documentary of the last five years, after Carlos Saura’s Fados [trailer] (34,151 admissions) of 2007 and Sérgio Tréfaut’s Lisboetas (15,508) of 2006.
Following its world première at the Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, domestic première at the 8th DocLisboa, and the Audience Award at the 2nd Visões do Sul - Portimão International Film Festival (see news), José e Pilar conquered both local and Brazilian audiences and is now ready to repeat similar success in Spain.
Produced by Lisbon-based JumpCut – in co-production with Fernando Meirelles’ (City of God) O2 Filmes and Pedro Almodóvar's El Deseo – the film screened in 11 Brazilian cities, garnering over 20,000 admissions, and is set for theatrical distribution in Spain in January 2011.
José e Pilar portrays the relationship between Portuguese Nobel Laureate for Literature José Saramago (who died last June) and his Spanish wife, journalist and translator Pilar del Río. Gonçalves Mendes followed them during the writing process of Saramago’s novel The Elephant's Journey, from the first draft of its plot at their Lanzarote house in 2006 to the book’s official launch in Brazil in 2008.