The short films from the Focus Portugal program have been chosen by Miguel Valverde - founding member and programmer of IndieLisboa International Film Festival. „A Portuguese shorts’ program curated in current times should have in mind two very important aspects: thinking about the past (and paying respect to the Portuguese great masters) and proposing the future (looking at the new generations, and highlighting their freedom)” says Valverde about the programming process. Focus Portugal deliberately follows these two paths: in The Heart and the Body young, emerging voices such as Leonor Teles (Golden Bear in Berlin 2016 with Batrachian’s Ballad) or Jorge Jácome with Flores (Hamburg Short Film Festival Grand Prize) can be found, while in On Politics established directors whose careers continue to develop, like the master Teresa Villaverde or Gabriel Abrantes, are included.
ASCENSION/ ASCENSAO (r. Pedro Peralta, Portugal, 2016, 18’)
At dawn, a group of peasants tries to rescue the body of a young man from the inside of a well. Women veil their faces in silence, while men endure the situation. In the center of it all, a mother awaits her son’s salvation. The wait is over. The boy’s body emerges from the depths of the earth. How can life cease to be when, in nature, there is an enduring renewal? From a distance, the sun sinks into the horizon. There is a new day ahead.
BATRACHIAN’S BALLAD/ BALADA DE UM BATRÁQUIO (r. Leonor Teles, Portugal, 2016, 11’)
“Simultaneously strange and familiar, distant and near, disquieting and seductive, outsider and cosmopolitan, gypsies are shrouded in an aura of ambiguity. They cannot be said to be invisible, as they hardly go unnoticed.” (Daniel Seabra Lopes, in “Deriva Cigana”, 2008). Like the gypsies, ceramic frogs don’t go unnoticed to a careful observer. “Batrachian’s Ballad” comes about in a context of ambiguity. A film that intervenes in the reality of Portuguese everyday life, as a form of fabling about a xenophobic behavior.
CAMPO DE VíBORAS (r. Cristèle Alves Meira, Portugal, 2016, 20’)
In a small Portuguese village, a tragedy occurred. An old lady is found dead in her garden, surrounded by snakes, while her 40-year-old daughter, Lurdes, fled without telling anyone. The gossips in town about the mysterious destiny of this house are spreading fast…
FLORES (r. Jorge Jácome, Portugal, 2017, 27’)
In a natural crisis scenario, the entire population of Azores is forced to evict dues to an uncontrolled plague of hydrangeas, a common flower in these islands. Two young soldiers, bound to the beauty of the landscape, guide us to the stories of sadness of those forced to leave and the inherent desire to resist by inhabiting the islands. The filmic wandering becomes a nostalgic and political reflection on territorial belonging and identity, and the roles we assume in the places we came from.
THE NIGHT SHIFT/ O TURNO DA NOITE (r. Hugo Pedro, Portugal, 2017, 26’)
A young room attendant sneaks for a night into the suite of a guest who’s coming back to the hotel only on the following day. A young room attendant lets slip out of its cage the pet bird of a whimsical French guest. Knowing that the guest is coming back to the hotel only on the following day, she sneaks into her suite for a night, in the attempt of finding back the bird, but what was about to become an unsettling night watch turns out to be a revealing experience.