New format and focus on Isaki Lacuesta's work are the first novelties of Curtas 2020

6 August 2020
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Filmmaker, producer, set designer, essayist, writer and curator, Isaki Lacuesta is one of the most interesting and outstanding Spanish artists today. From dance to music, to painting, literature or architecture, the list of areas in which the Spaniard has been intervening is long and multiverse. With more than a handful of films and documentaries for TV, his work has been screened all over the world, in venues as referential as the MOMA, the National Gallery in Washington or the Pompidou Center in Paris.

The program selected for Curtas Vila do Conde will include short and feature films, as well as the author's first exhibition in Portugal. Taking place at Solar - Cinematic Art Gallery, it will deal with the installation dimension of Lacuesta's work, who will be present in Vila do Conde to introduce his films and participate in a conference open to journalists and the public. Isaki Lacuesta will be accompanied by Isa Campo, an unquestionable creative partner, both in the writing of most of the screenplays of his films, and in the sharing of the directing.

Curtas Vila do Conde will take place this year between October 3 and 11, presenting a new format, adapted to the new reality and consumption habits. Along with the regular event in cinemas, that will once again have as its central spaces the Municipal Theater of Vila do Conde, the Municipal Auditorium and Solar, the event will promote a set of initiatives in an online format, thus expanding its area of action and allowing the audience and the filmmakers to meet in a safe and close manner. Several sessions in VoD format are programmed, in partnership with Shift72, as well as the holding of debates, interviews and master classes in a virtual environment.

The festival programming will be revealed over the next few weeks, as well as details of ticket purchases.

Looking Back: a glance under Take One! Competition

27 July 2020
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The Take One! Competition, created in 2005, appears with the aim of focusing attention on the best that was being done in Portugal in terms of school films, thus creating a platform that would function as a showcase for new talents emerging in national cinema, emerging in film schools. Even though since 1997 Curtas awarded the Young Portuguese Filmmaker Prize, with this new competition the idea was to take the focus on new directors and first works even further, creating a space where they could be exhibited and valued. It would also be a way to affirm the success of national cinema revealed by Geração Curtas and the format as an essential tool for new directors, whose affirmation would not be the result of chance but of a comprehensive and continuous work, not be something temporary but something that was here to stay. The sessions of this competition are some of the most popular and with a unique aura, as they give the chance to see the enthusiasm of those who present their work for the first time in a theater, since most of the new directors are present at this opportunity.

The story goes that if Geração Curtas would correspond to a greater internationalization and recognition of Portuguese authors abroad, never the national cinema, and in particular its new authors, reached a level as high as in the most recent years, winning unprecedented awards in important film festivals and on an ongoing basis: for example, between 2012 and 2017, at the Berlin Festival, three Portuguese films received the highest prize for short films. In fact, few similar initiatives can boast of showing firsthand the works of directors who would later be awarded the prestigious prizes of the Cannes and Berlin festivals, such as the cases of João Salaviza and Leonor Teles. Winner of 2005’s Take One! with the film “Duas Pessoas”, João Salaviza is perhaps the most notable name among those who have passed through this competition, a director who from an early age impressed by the maturity and assertiveness of his vision, combining social concerns with an refined and sophisticated visual style, collecting an enviable curriculum along the way: winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Short Films in 2009 with “Arena” and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival with “Rafa” in 2012, “Montanha” - his first feature film - premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. Leonor Teles, winner of Take One! in 2013, with “Rhoma Acans”, in 2016 would repeat the Portuguese feat of winning the main prize of the Berlin Festival for short films with “Batrachian's Ballad”, two works that revealed a style as irreverent as confident, interested in the issue of identity, looking at both the past and the future. She is currently one of the greatest promises of national cinema - her first feature film premiered at Cinéma du Réel and her most recent work was selected for the Venice Film Festival.
Another name that has been consolidating a remarkable curriculum, with several awards and presence in the most important film festivals is Salomé Lamas. A filmmaker who works in an innovative way the frontier between formats such as documentary, experimental and fiction, while constantly reinventing her cinema, she has had distinctions in important festivals such as FID Marseille, Visions du Réel, DocumentaMadrid and DocLisboa - her first feature film “No Man’s Land” premiered at the Berlin Festival in 2013. With several appearances both in the national competition and in the experimental competition of Curtas, she debuted at the festival precisely in the Take One competition! in 2009, with her film “Swan Girl's Palimpsest Or It Rained During Two Days And The Landscape Has Changed”. Author of some of the most original works of recent Portuguese cinema, Jorge Jácome, after a presence at Take One! in 2010 with "Deixa Cair a Noite", has been asserting himself as someone to watch carefully: present at the Berlin Festival with his latest film, "Past Perfect", which was awarded the Short Film Grand Prize of the 2019 edition of IndieLisboa and nominated for the European Film Awards, and his previous film “Flowers”, also winner at IndieLisboa (New Talent), was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mariana Gaivão is one of the most notorious recent cases of a filmmaker going from Take One! to the Portuguese Competition of Curtas, and someone who has also been creating an admirable filmography, along with a successful career in film festivals. The director participated in the 2007 edition with her school film “Sitiados”, to later be selected for the Portuguese Competition in 2012 (“Solo”), 2014 (“First Light”) and in 2019 she was distinguished with the prize for Best Director in Curtas, with her beautiful and hypnotic “Ruby”, a film about the end of summer and childhood, which premiered at the prestigious Rotterdam festival. Sofia Bost has also had a remarkable journey: in 2015 she made her debut at Take One! with her school film “Swallows”, and in 2019, her first film - but already with an assured and complex vision - “Party Day” premiered at the prestigious Semaine de la Critique in Cannes - the short film was also shown on the program of the Portuguese Competition of Curtas.

With a double participation at Take One!, in 2006 with “Quinta da Curraleira” and 2008 with “desPolido + desPolido ii”, Tiago Hespanha is one of the most interesting and daring Portuguese authors to explore the possibilities of the documentary genre - his most recent feature film “Campo” was shown at Cinéma du Réel and awarded in Locarno. “Anteu”, João Vladimiro's most recent film, was probably one of the most original and most well received (and discussed) works at the 2018 National Short Film Competition, adding selections for the Rotterdam Festival and the New York Film Festival, while displaying the singular vision of its director, who debuted on Take One! in 2006 with “Pé na Terra”. The duo Vasco Sá and David Doutel, who have established themselves as one of the most important working in animation cinema in Portugal, and who have been collecting important awards throughout their career, debuted in 2008 at Take One! with “Obtuso” (co-directed with André English), to later participate in the Portuguese Competition with “Soot” (2014), for which they were distinguished with the prize for Best Directing and the Audience Award, and “Augur” (2018 ).

There are several examples of new talents from Portuguese cinema, who had a recent passage at Take One! and now we can accompany them at different stages of confirmation of their potential: Pedro Peralta, who was awarded an Honorable Mention during his participation at Take One! in 2012, with “Mupepy Munatim”, is another case of a filmmaker who would later gain international recognition: his impressive short film “Ascension” was chosen for the Semaine de la Critique of the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, and then awarded at Indielisboa. Also awarded an Honorable Mention at Take One! in 2015 with “Sala Vazia”, Afonso Mota was later awarded at Indielisboa in 2019 for “Phantom Power”; Diogo Baldaia participated in 2014 with “Figure”, would later be the winner of the Portuguese Competition of IndieLisboa 2017 and selected for the Portuguese Competition of Curtas in 2019; they are names to follow closely, like the most recently awarded at Take One!: authors as Duarte Coimbra, winner in 2018 with “Amor, Avenidas Novas”, a dazzling film that was distinguished with the New Talent Prize at IndieLisboa 2018 and screened at the Semaine de la Critique of the Festival de Cannes; Inês Vila Cova, awarded in 2017 with the film “De Gente Se Fez História”, made from a collection of amateur footage from VHS archives, a film against forgetfulness, made from family records and affections that are also the history of a community, Caxinas; and in 2019, Tomás Paula Marques, with the film “Em Caso de Fogo”, an emotional and sensitive drama about a lonely protagonist who just wants to “pretend nothing has happened and continue to dance” - these will certainly be names to follow in the near future and that is the mission of Take One!, not only to offer the opportunity to discover new talents but also a window into the future of Portuguese cinema.
(João Araújo)

Looking Back: the stories of the Experimental Competition

25 June 2020
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Although more recent, the Experimental Competition is already one of the distinguished images of Curtas Vila do Conde, as it screens the vanguard and the best of what is done in the world within this area, through a rigorous but also bold selection. It is in experimental cinema, associated in large part with short films, where we find the riskier proposals, a permanent search to stretch the limits of cinema, either in its different physical or digital formats, or in its non-narrative forms, a place always looking to find something innovative, something that still surprises. In Curtas, the experimental quickly gained its own space, even before it became an official competitive section, since some of the films shown and even awarded were close to this genre.From 2003 onwards, the International Competition began to award the best experimental film, as was already the case with documentaries or animation, for example. And since 2009, that is, for eleven editions, the festival has presented an Experimental Competition, an autonomous program that increasingly asserts itself as a very exciting aspect of cinema.

It is in the 1995 edition of Curtas, its third, that we can immediately begin to recognize some of the most important names in experimental cinema in recent decades, and a proof that even before the creation of a competition of its own, this cinema already gained prominence in the festival. In this edition, two names were awarded whose work would be followed in future editions: Matthias Müller, Grand Prize for Best Film in 1995, is a prolific and innovative director, who early on worked with found footage images to create beautiful poems or essay films, featuring more than twenty films throughout the history of Curtas, in his own name and in collaboration with Christoph Girardet, a precursor filmmaker in the way he uses images from other films to create new stories. Also in 1995, Jay Rosenblatt, a filmmaker who explores the possibilities of the documentary format and the use of archive images to seek new ways to revive the past, was also awarded an honorable mention - he would also be awarded in 1998 with the prize for Best Documentary and several of his films would be shown at the Experimental Competition.
The first prize with the seal of Best Experimental Film happens in 2003, still as part of the International Competition, for the American director Deborah Stratman, for the film “In Order Not to Be Here”. Stratman, a multifaceted artist and one of the most original and distinct voices of her generation, would still be present in several editions of the festival, both in the International Competition and in the Experimental, proof of her hybrid cinema, between genres, but always political and personal. She would be the winner again in 2014, with “Hacked Circuit”. Rosa Barba is, along with Deborah Stratman, the only one to be doubly awarded in this competition, winner in 2016 with “Bending To Earth” and 2017 with “From Source to Poem”, works that address the ambiguous nature of reality and memory, and which examine society, man, environments and landscapes as materials to create new possibilities, new stories, amazing new ways of looking at the world.
Another name that soon stood out in Curtas is Nicolas Provost, winner of the prize for Best Experimental Film in 2004 with “Oh Dear”. A belgian filmmaker whose works have been a constant presence at the festival for several years, he explores the illusory nature of cinema and the boundaries between fiction and reality, when for example he transforms everyday life into a fiction film that follows narrative and cinematographic codes in “Plot Point” or "Stardust". In 2005, it was Peter Tscherkassky's turn to be awarded “Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine”, a director who has more than ten appearances in Curtas, with works that continuously explore the possibilities of the archive and found footage. Even before the creation of this competition, Ben Rivers was awarded in 2008 with the Best Experimental Film, for “Ah, Liberty”. Rivers is one of the most relevant contemporary artists for his constant search for innovation and experimentation in the representation of the relationship between man and society, often using 16 mm images; the director has several participations in Curtas, either in his own name or in collaboration with Ben Russell, another innovative multimedia artist, who works on film history and cinematic grammar, in a form of visual anthropology - the duo was honored at 2005 edition.

The first prize of this competition created in 2009 was for the prolific artist F. J. Ossang - besides being a director, he is a writer, editor, poet and musician. His cinematic work, always enigmatic, with a punk influence and an idiosyncratic style, was honored with a full retrospective in 2017 at Curtas. Winner in 2011 of the Experimental Competition with “The Push Carts Leave Eternity Street” and a director with a regular presence in Curtas, Ken Jacobs is one of the fundamental names of experimental cinema in the last decades: since the 60s and 70s at the forefront of exploring possibilities cinema, his work often involves the appropriation and assembly of found footage images to create his own works, but also the use of his home movies, with some adventures through stereoscopic and three-dimensional experiences, always in search of innovation and new ways. Jacobs was one of the directors in focus in the 2010 edition, and won the Grand Prize for Best Film in the 2007 edition, with the films “Capitalism: Child Labor” and “Nymph”.
Bruce Conner is another giant of experimental and avant-garde cinema, director of some of the most important works of this genre, and whose work has been screened several times at Curtas, in the International Competition and later Experimental, but also as a tribute in 2011 to the way his work can be seen as a precursor to music videos. In the 1997 edition, Curtas dedicated a retrospective to Kenneth Anger, another pioneer and fundamental name of experimental cinema and its history - since his first short film in 1937, this underground director reinvents languages and possibilities, in a fusion between abstractionism and the conceptual, that the festival has shown over the years. One of the authors featured in the 2002 edition and present in different sections and editions of Curtas, especially between 1999 and 2005, Gustav Deutsch is another experimental filmmaker whose work the festival has followed, highlighting his interest in the phenomenology of the film and his film series “Film-ist 1-6”. An essential figure in the structuralist cinematographic movement and minimalist art, Morgan Fisher has a long career as a multifaceted artist, focusing his cinema activities on the obsolescence of film as a physical and artistic expression - he was the winner of the Experimental Competition in 2018, with “Another Movie ”, a kind of homage to“ A Movie ”(1958), Bruce Conner's film that is recognized as one of the most remarkable works in the history of experimental cinema.

In addition to these iconic names in experimental cinema, Curtas seeks to introduce new emerging talents, filmmakers willing to take risks in order to find a different look at cinema. Curtas has accompanied and screened first-hand authors that we can frame as from another generation of experimental filmmakers. Bill Morrison, whose work Curtas has exhibited since 2004, is one of the most relevant current artists in the field of found footage, using the deformations and distortions found in the deterioration of the film to create amazing new compositions, such as “Light is Calling ”. The Austrian Rainer Kohlberger has been a regular presence in recent years, continuing to explore the territories between cinema and music, and working from a variety of algorithms with the aim of creating, and later manipulating, the noise of the information in the image itself, always in an innovative way.

Awarded an Honorable Mention in 2017 for the film “Fajr”, Lois Patiño is a Galician filmmaker whose hypnotic works explore notions around space and time, the ephemeral nature of life, but also identity in a transcendent, almost religious experience, that only the poetry of cinema allows. Ajna Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy, a duo of directors based in Berlin, were awarded in 2018 with an Honorable Mention for the film “Comfort Stations”, a reinvention of films that build a narrative from archival material and a new soundtrack, which unfolds as a psychological test to the viewer. With only two works exhibited at Curtas but with an irreverent innovation and a poetic vision, Brazilian director Ana Vaz is one of the most unique artists currently exploring the experimental genre.

Winner of the competition in 2019 with "Suspended Island", the duo Jane and Louise Wilson already have an established career as multifaceted artists (nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999). In recent years, their films, which have been shown in Curtas, explore an interest in a lost urban geography and an alternative architecture, showing hidden landscapes that most people do not see and that thus gain new meanings and attention. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the female directors in this field, such as the cases of Deborah Stratman, Rosa Barba, Jane and Louise Wilson, Ajna Dornieden, or the Indian duo Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel, winners of the Competition Experimental in 2013, with an inventive work that looks at the cinema itself.

Over the years, there have been several valuable participations by Portuguese filmmakers in this competition, authors who have been working with experimental cinema as a creative force to explore new forms of artistic expression, also reflecting the enormous vitality in Portugal of this category of cinema. Jorge Quintela, winner of an Honorable Mention in 2010 for the film "Ausstieg" - a pocket film on a train between two stations in Berlin - is the only Portuguese to win this competition, but several other names have shown their works, revealing and affirming themselves as inseparable from experimental cinema in Portugal, cases of Edgar Pêra, Filipa César, Daniel Barroca, Paulo Abreu, Mónica Baptista, João Onofre, Salomé Lamas, Luís Alves de Matos and Pedro Maia.
This plurality of names, of different approaches to experimental cinema, of different possibilities, of different generations and influences, is a reflection of the experimental as a last stronghold where the paths of cinema are drawn, film by film, from the past and thinking of the future.

(João Araújo) 

To the Magnificent Vicente Pinto Abreu

28 May 2020
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It is with great sadness and profound sorrow that Curtas Vila do Conde laments the death of Vicente Pinto Abreu, yesterday, May 27th 2020. An important member of the Curtas family, and a dear friend of everyone involved in the festival, he was an integral part of its history during many editions: he was part of the Portuguese Competition Selection Committee from 2007 to 2014, and from 2015 to 2019, and the International Competition Selection Committee from 2007 to 2011 and in 2015, and the Music Videos Competition Selection Committee in 2008; he was also, since 2009, one of the most important faces of the festival in  accompanying juries and guests. Over the years, his performances as a DJ are countless and unforgettable, either in his own name or as part of the “7 Magníficos”. Able to disarm and enchant everyone with his knowledge - and passion - for cinema and music, this is an irreparable loss for our community. The festival presents our heartfelt condolences to family and friends.

Looking Back: the stories of the Portuguese Competition

5 May 2020
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The Portuguese Competition had its debut in the third edition of Curtas, in 1995. It is the second competition of the festival with greater longevity, only behind the International Competition. The history of this competition is also the history of Curtas and closely linked to the most important events in Portuguese cinema in the last three decades. This is evident when recalling some of the names that found in Curtas a space to flourish and expand their artistic vision, particularly in a period of renovation and reinvention of Portuguese cinema from the 90's, which even led to the popularization of the expression “Geração Curtas” (Curtas Generation), coined by Augusto M. Seabra. He wrote in 1999, in the newspaper “Público”: «Most of these authors differ from the older ones in the sense that they do not encourage any particular spirit of mission to reproduce any dominant image of “Portuguese cinema”, they are interested in making cinematic art and that's enough». Proof of the current validity of this statement is the way in which, during the period of the last economic crisis in Portugal and the scarcity of funds for cinema, short films were once again essential to glimpse into the future of Portuguese cinema.

One of the most important authors associated with “Geração Curtas” and whose journey has been closely followed by the festival since the beginning is Miguel Gomes, who presented his first film “Entretanto” in the 1999 edition. The film, which accompanies a trio of teenagers on summer days under the influence of amorous enchantments and inner uncertainties in an ethereal and melancholy portrait, won the award for Best Director of the Portuguese Competition, revealing an affirming filmmaker, searching for his own cinema. In the following years Miguel Gomes would be a regular presence at the festival, reinventing himself with each new film, such as “Inventário de Natal” (2000), “Kalkitos” (2002), “31” (2002) and “Cântico das Criaturas” (2006), which won the prize for Best Film. The festival would later witness the debut of his feature films, such as “Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto” (2008) and the trilogy “As Mil e Uma Noites” (2015).


Another inseparable author of this period of Portuguese cinema and who left his mark on this competition several times, is João Nicolau. The director presented his first work in the 2006 edition, “Rapace”, a musical poem with sentimental and humorous notes about the adventures of a boy, with which he won the Grand Prize for Best Film; later with “Canção de Amor e Saúde” (2009) he would be awarded the Best Film of the National Competition, and would also present “O Dom das Lágrimas” (2012, out of competition) and “Gambozinos” (2013, honorable mention in the Curtinhas section, dedicated to films for children), films that made it possible to accompany the refining of a unique visual sense.


However, to talk about “Geração Curtas” is to talk about Sandro Aguilar, who has been a constant presence throughout the festival almost since its first edition, and is one of the most relevant names in Portuguese cinema in recent years, not only for his work as a director and editor, but also for his important work as a producer (he produced, for example, the first films by Miguel Gomes and João Nicolau, but also films by Manuel Mozos and Ivo Ferreira). In 1998, he was quoted by Augusto M. Seabra: «Whoever is making short films today has a way of seeing things different from previous generations. Some are provocative and bet on the possibility of not needing a narrative story. That is how potential filmmakers are created». With a distinct visual style, closer to the experimental and sensorial, Curtas has followed over the years the different permutations of a filmmaker always willing to take risks: in 1998 he was the winner of the Prize for Young Portuguese Filmmaker with the film “Estou Perto”; in 2001 his film “Corpo e Meio” was the winner of the Prize for Best Film in the National Competition, and also the nominee of the festival for the European Film Awards, a nomination that he repeated in 2005 with “A Serpente”; after several appearances in the National competition, in 2017 he presented his second feature film, “Mariphasa”.


If throughout the short history of Curtas in its history of 27 editions some Portuguese films were awarded in categories that go beyond this competition, only in 2006 the main prize of the festival - the Grand Prize for Best Film in Competition (which encompasses all competing films, national and international) was attributed for the first time to a Portuguese film: “Rapace” by João Nicolau. And if only after 13 editions this prize was awarded to a Portuguese director, it would happen again only in 2013, in the twentieth edition of Curtas, with “Carosello” by Jorge Quintela. However, recently something seems to have changed and this barrier has been broken: Filipa César was awarded the Grand Prix in 2015 for “Mined Soil”, and in 2017 Marta Mateus received an equal distinction for “Farpões Baldios”.


These new occurrences also seem to signal another trend, which is the fact that more and more of the award-winning films belonged to female directors, the result of a welcome change in the paradigm in the panorama of national production. In addition to the mentioned names, Curtas has made known new female authors such as Ana Maria Gomes (in 2016, with “António Lindo António”), Alice Eça Guimarães and Mónica Santos (Audience Award in 2015 with “Amélia & Duarte, and in 2018, with “Entre Sombras”), Salomé Lamas (Best Documentary in 2012 for “Community”) and Leonor Noivo (honorable mention in 2012 for “A Cidade e o Sol”), or the most recent awards in the category of Best Director: Margarida Lucas (2015 with “Rampa”), Ana Moreira (2018 with “Aquaparque”) and Mariana Gaivão (2019 with “Ruby”).


Several other names over the years helped to build the identity of Curtas and also a new identity for Portuguese cinema. The first Portuguese awarded at Curtas was in fact Abi Feijó, an essential name of the Portuguese animation, in the second edition in 1994, even before the creation of a National Competition. In 1995 the first prize for the National Competition was awarded to Marco Martins (for “Mergulho de Ano Novo”, co-directed with João Braz), a director who would later be awarded in Cannes with his first film “Alice” (2005); like Martins, other names were distinguished at the beginning of their careers with the award for Best Film, such as Inês de Medeiros in 1998, Margarida Cardoso in 1999, Jorge Cramez in 2002, Rodrigo Areias in 2008; or even Ivo Ferreira in 1999 (Young Portuguese Filmmaker Award), Daniel Blaufuks in 2001 (Best Director). In addition to these names, the festival made it possible to discover the forays into the short film format by renowned authors, such as Pedro Costa (prize for Best Film in 2011, with “O Nosso Homem”) and João Pedro Rodrigues (2012, nomination for the European Film Awards with “Manhã de Santo António” and 2017, Best Film with “Où en êtes-vous, João Pedro Rodrigues?”), who is himself a frequent presence at the festival, often in collaboration with João Guerra da Mata, as in the case of Curtas commissioned film, “Mahjong” (2013).


In the already long history of Curtas, and of the countless and valuable authors who passed through the festival, there is however a curiosity to note: three names won the National Competition twice, leaving their mark on the honors with their cinema, from social to documentary to intimate and personal: Pedro Caldas, with "Pedido de Emprego" in 2000, and in 2007 with "Europe 2007"; Miguel Clara Vasconcelos with "Documento Boxe" in 2005 and "O Triângulo Dourado" in 2012; and Basil da Cunha with “À Côté” in 2010, and “Os Vivos também Choram” in 2012. Recently it has been Gabriel Abrantes, another prolific author with several appearances in Curtas, whose creative streak reveals an irreverent and unpredictable author always willing to taking risks and reinventing oneself, which has been distinguished with several awards: honorable mention in 2011 (with “Fratelli”, co-directed with Alexandre Melo), Best Director in 2016 and 2017 (with “A Brief History of Princess X” and “Os Humores Artificiais”), and Best Fiction and nomination for the European Film Academy awards in 2019 (“Les extraordinaires mésaventures de la jeune fille de pierre”).


If the history of Curtas and the national competition is the sum of its various authors and visions, its future will also be a mirror of what we have witnessed so far: surprising, exciting, tempting, vital and in constant renovation and reinvention, which corresponds to a desire to intervene artistically over the world. In other words, returning to the text about “Geração Curtas”: «they are interested in making cinematic art and that's enough».

(João Araújo) 

Short Films for Long Days

8 April 2020
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In this moment of responsible seclusion and social isolation, in which the world we know seems temporarily suspended, one of the things we miss at this time might be, among many others, the possibility of visiting a film theatre and letting ourselves be taken away by the prospect of a movie. While we wait for the return to normal days, it seems important to keep in touch with this habit, even if now in a virtual way. Agência – Portuguese Short Film Agency has carried out an initiative with the title “Short Films for Long Days” to precisely help close the distance to the cinema as place of community and sharing, presenting several short films by Portuguese authors in a virtual space.

Curtas Vila do Conde is associating itself with this initiative with a program that celebrates the short film format and presents some of Curtas' productions over the past few years, from international authors (titles that will be made available in the first week of the cycle) and national authors (films made available in the second week), thus enabling the (re)discovery of these works. These films count as an important feature a connection to the northern region of Portugal, and some of them even have a direct relationship with Vila do Conde, where they were filmed. This program makes it possible to discover not only part of the recent history of the festival, but also the region where it takes place.

Curtas recently announced the postponement of this year's edition to a new date, from the 3rd to the 11th of October, and this will be a way of keeping the festival's audience connected to Curtas' films, while we wait for news. The films will be placed online in this space [], and the different titles will be released in the coming days, joining the list. Thus, we hope to contribute in some way to reduce the longing for cinema and keep the conversations around the films, even if not outside the auditorium, so that we can all be closer.

“The Dockworker's Dream” by Bill Morrison:
"In 2015, Curtas Vila do Conde brought together filmmaker Bill Morrison and the band Lambchop for an unprecedented project of a film-concert, created from the director's research in the ANIM’s archives. The visual and sound result of this initiative and the success of the concert led to the production of a short film. Kurt Vagner took the opportunity to explore, in a long song entitled ""The Hustle"", krautrock sounds and vintage electronics hitherto barely visible in Lambchop’s discography. The film was also an important feature in the promotion of the album “FLOTUS”." (Miguel Dias)

"Night Without Distance” by Lois Patiño:

"Filmed in the hills of Gerês, on the border between Portugal and Galicia, “Noite Sem Distância” seems to be situated between two worlds, on the border between the lingering description of a practice that has been repeated since forever and a strange sensory and hypnotic dream. The representation of the passage of time is precisely one of the central themes of Patiño's filmography, which here portrays a night just like so many others, in which contraband traveled through that region, as a succession of several moments that are expanded, removing its specificity of time and thus creating a timeless, almost sacred, serene beauty. The use of a negative image filter gives the film a transcendental and illusory aspect, but it also serves to transform the characters into indistinct figures, as if ghosts-witnesses of nature, figures that blend and intertwine with the elements around them or “traces of souls in the landscape”, as Teixeira de Pascoaes wrote in the poem quoted at the beginning of the film. A journey from the real to the poetic, this is also a small fable about the resistance of memory." (João Araújo)


This film was produced by Curtas Vila do Conde within the scope of the CAMPUS project, an audiovisual training program in university in partnership with several Portuguese universities in the Porto area, which promoted workshops and masterclasses with important names in contemporary cinema (national and international) and resulted in the production of films like this, with the filmmakers working with a team composed of university students.

"Fernando Who Received A Bird From The Sea” by Helvécio Marins Jr. and Felipe Bragança:
"A beautiful and candid parable about preconceived ideas and unlikely friendships, Fernando Que Ganhou um Pássaro do Mar", filmed between Bairro das Fontainhas, in Porto, and Rio Janeiro, tells us the correspondence between two uknown friends, which begins when Fernando, in Porto, receives a bird sent across the ocean. This exchange of letters, which is actually a monologue at the beginning, reveals a game of mirrors, in the sense that it begins by revealing reflected ideas, possibilities of what we imagine to be on the other side. It is 2013 and Fernando, unemployed, divides his time between a small apartment with few conditions and the café on the corner, while he complains, by letter, of the bird that does not seem to be a great gift but that helps to alleviate the loneliness. Fernando imagines a paradisiacal Brazil, with its hot water beaches, mermaids and indians in their palaces, and that is exactly what we see on the other side, the fantasy idea of a Brazil imagined in the eyes of a Portuguese at a distance. Only later is this image reversed to represent contemporary Brazil, where money and poverty flow at the same time, creating huge gaps. Suddenly the palace turns into a house similar to that of Fontainhas, and the metaphor, hidden in the beginning, becomes evident: with the approximation between the two starting points, we realize that the two are after all closer than they could imagine." (João Araújo)

The film, which had its international debut in the Forum section of the Berlinale, is a production by Curtas Metragens CRL, in co-production with Duas Mariola, which thus established a bridge between emerging structures in film production in Portugal and Brazil, in the context of a sharp crisis in Europe and film production in Portugal. 

“The Miracle of Saint Anthony” by Sergei Loznitsa:
"miracle (noun):
1. Supernatural fact opposite to the laws of Nature. 2. Portent, wonder, prodigy.
The blessing of animals that takes place every year in mid-June, in the village of Santo António de Mixões da Serra, in Gerês, a tradition according to which local farmers take their animals to the Church, seems in everything to be contrary to the laws of nature, with a religious mass dedicated to these animals. At least once, animals are also entitled to participate in the cult, side by side with the saints, and the unusual spectacle of a procession of horses being blessed is a small visual marvel. Sergei Loznitsa, an ukrainian director who alternates between documentary and fiction and often seeks a balance between the two, is one of the authors with most presences in the international competition of Curtas, and awarded in 1999 for the film “Life Autumn” and in 2001 for “Polustanok”. More interested in people and their customs than in the enunciated miracle, Loznitsa returns to explore through a curious look the possibilities of a film focused on anonymous faces, a crowd of devotees who thus gain prominence. Accompanying this ritual in a solemn way, this is a sincere portrait of how an ancestral tradition is still celebrated today, bringing the community and its animals together in the streets of this mountain village." (João Araújo)

This film was produced by Curtas Vila do Conde under ESTALEIRO, a continuous platform for cultural programming between 2010 and 2012, which aimed to create a hub of creativity, bringing together creators and audiences at different times. During these two years, ESTALEIRO produced several films, organized workshops and exhibitions, and provided several concerts in the city of Vila do Conde.

"Vila do Conde Extended" by Miguel Clara Vasconcelos:
"Following the exhibition of his film "O Triângulo Dourado", awarded for best film in the national Short Film Competition in 2014, Miguel Clara Vasconcelos proposed us a production whose base would be composed of found footage and amateur films in super 8 or 16mm, shot in Vila do Conde, interspersed with a fictional part filmed today. Our enthusiasm was total: for some years we had been talking about a project of research and digitalization of material with images of the city, forgotten reels of film somewhere in attics and old trunks, but still without a concrete destination. Miguel's idea was the motivation to start this project, which took the form of an artistic residency to be explored in two ways: a film, which would be called "Vila do Conde Espraiada", and an exhibition in the form of an audiovisual installation, integrated in the program of the Solar - Galeria de Arte Cinemática, and which was assembled in Centro de Memória, called "Onde o Coração Se Esconde", in a double reference to two great writers with a connection to the city, José Régio and Ruy Belo. According to the director, "the memory of Vila do Conde is also the memory of my mother. When she passed away, I had a vertigo. The time spent in that town seemed to disappear abruptly, to escape, to die in me. In the 2014 edition of Curtas, I realized that it was urgent to work on this sensitive, magical matter, which is childhood and which was for me Vila do Conde".

"Vila do Conde Espraiada" reappropriates these small films to, from then on, build a narrative based on the revisiting of childhood and youth memories, especially of the 1980s. It is a fictional autobiography, alternating images from the present (fiction) and the past (documentary), where the right option to shoot in 16mm strengthened the cohesion between the images. Also, the thread of the narration is quite captivating: the recording of a tape cassette, in the form of a love letter with songs in the middle, for a girlfriend who is far away. The words and the images create, in a poetic language that we already found in other works of the author, an emotional attachment that mixes the love story with the memories of dispersed events, some important, others apparently insignificant, but they are the ones that make us what we are today, and that can never be dissociated from a certain place, a certain city or landscape. In a remarkable way, the film still integrates the political commentary of a time full of convulsions, not renouncing to the point of view of a child's understanding, and improved by the use the archival footage of the political graffiti that were common at that time in all Portuguese cities. One of the happiest ideas in the film is the relation between rich and poor children (who for Miguel as a child were the "boys of the avenue" and the "boys of the wasteland", since they lived in huts that could be seen in the wasteland at the back of the garden of his house).  In addition to the political freedom recently gained, there is also an idea of lost freedom, that of childhood. It could be just an adventure on a bicycle ride beyond the road sign indicating the entrance to Vila do Conde, or an impenetrable event in a camping tent outside the city limits. Or, as the director/narrator says, "the freedom of children lies in not understanding a lot of things, not sacrificing themselves for money or suffering from love"." (Miguel Dias).  

"A River Through the Mountains" by José Magro
“No man can enter the same river twice, because when you enter again you will not find the same waters, and the man himself is no longer the same. The aphorism is Greek, but it applies to the main character of this film shot in the Chinese city of Hancheng, about a man in a process of personal discovery. This is a story about this man, very young and still looking to find love in his life, as he wanders through the rainy streets of the city as if he were roaming a river to which he would not return the same, transformed by each previous encounter. We listen to his thoughts, his memories and impressions about different feelings, about the different aspects that love can represent for him, obsessed with the idea of something he hasn't yet found. A delicate and melancholy portrait of an instant in a long sentimental journey, and even with some humor in the way it plays with some precepts of what is expected from a film about romance, always under the sway of a careful and insightful gaze. As the song we hear during the film says: “living in a kind of daydream”.” (João Araújo) 

"The Glory Of Filmmaking In Portugal" by Manuel Mozos
Starting from a historical fact at least curious - a letter that José Régio wrote to Alberto Serpa, expressing his interest in founding a production company to start making cinema -, in The Glory of Filmmaking in Portugal, Manuel Mozos rehearses a fake documentary where he reconstructs a possible involvement in film art of one of the most important Portuguese intellectuals, José Régio. With an exemplary screenplay by Eduardo Brito, the film actually materializes what could have been one of the most curious cinematographic experiences of Portuguese cinema. A historically fabled exercise, but one that, for that very reason, leaves us to navigate the possible alternative chronologies of History. (Daniel Ribas)

This film was produced by Curtas Metragens CRL, in the context of its Campus program, involving students from film schools in Porto. 

"Mahjong" by João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata:
"The ESTALEIRO project worked as a continuous platform for cultural programming between 2010 and 2012, which aimed to create a hub of creativity in Vila do Conde. During this period, ESTALEIRO produced several films, organized workshops and exhibitions, and provided several concerts in the city. The film production proposed to some directors different perspectives about the region, and the duo João Pedro Rodrigues/João Rui Guerra da Mata appropriated the Industrial Area of Varziela, in Vila do Conde. This is where the most significant Chinese community in northern Portugal resides, offering an opportunity for the authors to continue their Asian-inspired films, where "Mahjong" echoes, above all, with "A Última Vez Que Vi Macau". In both films, the initial documentary look is soon abandoning any pretensions of a realistic portrait of a space, giving way to a plot marked by the film culture of its authors, which plays with recognizable codes of film genres, especially film noir and suspense. In "Mahjong", these elements appear filtered by hypnotic delusions and by a dissonant tension that seems to want to mislead the spectator all the time. What seems to be an investigation close to crime films, gives way to a parallel reality, where mannequins take the place of human beings, where birds and flowers are made of plastic. Spectral illusions of enigmatic women and the night in that industrial desert of identical streets increase the mystery, which long sequences at the wheel of a car deepen, sometimes being reminiscent of "Vertigo". Luís Fernandes' excellent soundtrack, also with Hitchcockian echoes, underlines this metaphysical and meta-filmic search. More than looking for the cardinal points of a story where, in the good tradition of film noir, the secrets to be revealed are more relevant than the fragile convictions of the spectator, we embark on this stimulating and aesthetically dazzling narrative as in a game, joining the available elements as sets of mahjong stones.” (Miguel Dias)

“A Road As a Street" by Graça Castanheira:
Starting from Álvaro Domingues' iconic book, with the same title, this film seeks to map the concept advanced by the geographer: the idea that national roads are configured to be places of dialogue between salespeople and travelers. The range of visual resources used by these houses turns the road into a suggestive street, establishing its own aesthetic, eminently kitsch. The poetry of A Rua da Estrada is at the crossroads between a consumer culture and a homogeneous mischaracterization of the long kilometers of national roads. This film was produced by Curtas Metragens CRL, in the context of its Campus program, involving students from film schools in Porto. (Daniel Ribas)

"Starting on March 17th, in the midst of a state of emergency, the “Short Films for Long Days“ initiative, from Agência - Portuguese Short Film Agency, to which Curtas Vila do Conde later associated itself with a special program, ran until the past May 19th. In these two months, 22 films by leading authors, mostly Portuguese but also with some foreign participations, were made available online free of charge, and reached over 25 thousand views, a significant number that reflects the demand for cultural objects in a period of mandatory confinement.
At a time when we are asked to stay at home, culture asserts itself as an essential asset, whether it be literature, music or cinema, it helps to keep us connected to the world. It is a way to escape the routine in troubled times, a company to ease the passage of time and reduce distances in times of social isolation. It is vital to make this valuable recognition of culture, and in this specific case of cinema, in the form of the films that were posted online, so that everyone who was at home could have contact with a central part of Portuguese culture, which has been distinguished and awarded throughout the world. We would like to thank all those who have generously contributed their films to this initiative, always considering that a film is also the result of a common effort by a team of directors, editors, producers, scriptwriters, actors, directors and technicians of photography or sound, illustrators, colorists, translators, decorators, electricians, among others. This is a sector that constantly lives in a situation of instability and precarious labor, whose important contribution to the common well-being must be recognized and supported by all, because it is important to know that when we need culture, it is there for everyone." (João Araújo)

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