Portugal Magnified

Are you afraid of Portuguese films?
Portuguese cinematography is a nice monster on the road to the future.

Are you afraid of Portuguese films?

Portuguese cinematography is in Portugal an overlooked area. Good-quality films only rarely attract more than 3000 viewers and commercial films achieve equally lamentable results. We are experiencing years of psychological rejection by the audience. More and more often, the audience will consume only Lion Kings, films from the Marvel Universe or the Fast and Furious franchise. This is happening at the expense of two things—the prestige of the Portuguese film abroad, especially at first-class international film festivals and the film criticism. I am convinced that the new generation is paying for the big problem of the Portuguese film industry, where there is no so called cinema do meio (popular cinematography with artistic ambition for an average budget). The films are either purely and strictly artistic or essayistic or we see attempts for less than mediocre comedy, especially of television format. Therefore, the viewer already feels nauseous when buying a movie ticket.

In 2019, however, we have noticed an improvement. Moreover, profits have been exceptional. Some examples of the offered movies show that a criterion of diversity is getting to the forefront. The punk movie Damned Summer by Pedro Cabeleira signals that the new generation is not limiting itself and conforming to the tradition, on the contrary, the film awarded at the Locarno Festival is an evidence of the cutting of the umbilical cord.

The movie selection can show how much the Portuguese film industry will gain if it winks at co-production. The film The Maias - Story of a Portuguese Family by João Botelho received help in the form of financial support from Brazil, as well as the film Tabu by Miguel Gomes that was co-produced with the German company Komplizen Films…

I would also like to emphasize that it is not only young and renowned creators who belong to this wave of filmmakers. Director Fernando Vendrell, who is signed under the movie Apparition, does not have an internationally recognized name, but in Portugal he creates respectable works. It is also important to show the works of artists such as Filipa Reis and João Miller, a couple that while paving new paths managed to do a lot of work in the area of production, too.

The most exciting thing is that the names of many directors who have received honors at festivals abroad—except for João Canijo and Miguel Gomes—are not yet internationally recognized. However, each of them will in the near future present a film that could change this situation. I will put my money on Marco Martins, the discovery of the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes some years ago, or on João Nicolau who this year shined at Locarno with the movie Technoboss…

Portuguese cinematography is a nice monster on the road to the future.

Rui Tendinha