Respect: João Pedro Rodrigues

Portugal has a reputation of having a rich, diverse, often surprising and unconventional cinema. It is also because of three big names of contemporary European film—Pedro Costa, Miguel Gomes and João Pedro Rodrigues. The Cinematik Festival will present all five feature films of João Pedro Rodrigues, who will personally visit the festival, together with João Rui Guerra da Mata.

Portugal has a reputation of having a rich, diverse, often surprising and unconventional cinema. It is also because of three big names of contemporary European film—Pedro Costa, Miguel Gomes and João Pedro Rodrigues. Even though their poetics differ, they are connected by an effort to find a new kind of expression, which not always suits the conventional festival taste. That’s why we can find their films rather in Locarno or other parallel selections, such as Un certain regard or Directors’ Fortnight.

The international career of 53-year-old Rodrigues started with a short movie Parabéns! (Happy Birthday!), which in 1997 in Venice won the Special Jury Prize. The short movie was followed by a documentary diptych about the construction of identity Esta é a minha casa (This Is My Home) and Viagem à Expo (Journey to the Expo) and, in 2000, by his feature film debut Phantom, which was presented in Venice, too.

As in the case of the following two films—Two Drifters and To Die Like a Man—that had their premieres in Cannes, it is an abstract study of a character, within which the film keeps certain distance, but at the same time we know very well what the character is experiencing. They are mostly characters on the margins of society and on the verge of a breakdown. They don’t have much in their lives and sink deeper and deeper. Of course, to a great extent, it has to do with their LGBT+ identity.

With his films The Last Time I Saw Macao and especially with The Ornithologist—which won the Best Direction Award in Locarno—Rodrigues definitively confirmed his position of an original author of contemporary European cinema. The first film is a fictitious reminiscent journey to Macao together with João Rui Guerra da Mata—who has been his closest collaborator for more than 20 years and many times even his co-director. The second film is a peculiar allegory of the life of Saint Anthony of Padua, in which Rodrigues substitutes the actor in a leading role in several shots and he himself becomes the transformation of the protagonist (Rodrigues studied biology and wanted to become an ornithologist, before he started making movies).

The Cinematik Festival will present all five feature films of João Pedro Rodrigues, who will personally visit the festival, together with João Rui Guerra da Mata.