From Cape Verde to Chinese Lisbon, a focus on short films
by Vitor Pinto
08/05/2007 - Portuguese director Pedro Costa will be back at Cannes with his latest work, Tarrafal, screening in the festival's sidebar section Directors' Fortnight. The title is part of the collective film O Estado do Mundo, directed by Costa and by five other filmmakers: Chantal Akerman, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Vincente Ferraz, Aiysha Abraham and Wang Bing.
In Tarrafal, Costa returns to Cape Verde, the former Portuguese colony where he partially set his 1995 film Down to Earth, and which is also the homeland of his (real-life) leading character Ventura from Colossal Youth [trailer] (see article). Costa now looks at the Tarrafal prison, built in 1936, where for nearly 40 years the dissidents of Salazar’s dictatorial regime were tortured and killed. Tarrafal still stands today, and there is a project to turn it into a museum.
The other two Portuguese names in the Directors' Fortnight section are João Rui Guerra and João Pedro Rodrigues, who co-directed the short film China, China. Recently shown at the IndieLisboa festival, the title follows the experiences of a young girl from Lisbon's Chinese community. Furthermore, Rodrigues will also introduce his upcoming film To Die Like a Man (produced by Rosa Filmes) at the Cinéfondation's atelier (see news).
Both short films will represent Portugal's film talent in a year when no domestic features are competing for the Palme d’Or. This focus on short films is also particularly relevant as national film body ICAM has chosen one of the mentors of Portugal's Agency of Short Films, Luís Urbano, to take part on EFP's initiative Producers on the Move. Urbano – whose company O Som E A Fúria backed João Nicolau's praised short film Bird of Prey (see news) – is currently preparing Sandro Aguilar's feature debut A Zona and Miguel Gomes's second film Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto.