Informative plattform of International Federation of Film Societies- Féderation Internationalle des Ciné-clubs- Federación Internacional de Cine Clubes

Festival Jury Report FICC COIMBRA 2014

evoraAfter a pause of two years the beautiful historic city of Coimbra hosted the 20th edition of Caminhos do Cinema Portuguese.

The city is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. 30.000 of its 140.000 inhabitants are students. There in the very heart of the city center the “Festival Caminhos do Cinema Portuguese” is located. The organization is embedded at the “Associacao Academica de Coimbra” which is home to many different student associations and a melting pot of cultural events. Next to the headquarters you also find one of the main screening rooms of the festival the “Teatro Académico Gil Vicente”.

It is a big challenge to organize a annual and widely respected film festival. Furthermore the festival only got very poor or almost no governmental support. However Vitor Ferreira, the director of the festival, has gathered around him a strong, creative and totally reliable team.

The Festival

The 20th edition of Caminhos do Cinema Portuguese was a challenge in itself. And indeed the team build up a exciting cultural program and made it possible to get a deep insight view of Portuguese cinema.

Caminhos do Cinema Portuguese offered a rich variety of film sections and activities.

The sections were divided into “long-, short films, documentaries, animated movies” from Portuguese filmmakers. There was also a section for films from academy graduates. On the other hand people could attend various master classes, lectures and a film symposium.

The festival team organized also special thematic screenings for children and elder people.

But besides the phenomenal organization I will describe now the “three” most relevant winners of this year.

Main Awards:

Grand Prize of the festival “Caminhos do Cinema Portugues” and Audience Award

This year the movie “Pára-me de Repente o Pensamento” (Suddenly my Thoughts halt) by Jorge Pelicano won both prizes the grand prize of the jury and the “Audience Award”.

The documentary is about a facility for mentally ill in Lisbon. The viewer accompanies the patients in their daily lives and in their preparations for a play. The director of the play lives for this purpose for some time with the patients to build up trust and to simply understand them better. But the core of the film is the people. Pelicano creates with its sensitive camera the necessary space in front of the camera so that the characters unfold naturally. The film takes its protagonists seriously and never puts itself over it. Although life there has a sad background, it does not become incriminating. The patients themselves prove that they are amazingly aware about their own situation and not desperate. Instead, they use the opportunity to speak in detail about their crazy truths. These intimate truths are what fascinates and allows the audience to identify with the events. This is the special power of film that the mentally ill are not perceived as a threat but as people who can enrich us and make us laugh even about ourselves.

Don Quijote Prize

The films in competition for the Don Quijote Prize for Portuguese Newcomers included all of those with English subtitles, English language or no dialogue. Over 60 films were eligible and these covered all forms like documentaries, shorts, animated and feature-length drama films.

This year the three members of the jury, José Santiago (Portugal), Tariq Porter (Spain) and Ruben Miranda (Germany) elected “Um Fim do Mundo” from Pedro Pinho as winner.
The social drama shot in black & white takes us through the day of a group of young Portuguese who live in typical Portuguese ghetto. The director won mostly young people from these areas to play in his movie. Their extraordinary sensitive play plus the strong but not exaggerated nor too condensed plot allows a deep and honest look at the thoughts, motivations, feelings of teenagers who have to live in precarious conditions. It permits us to overcome our prejudices and bonds us closely to their fate.

What remains?

Summarized the situation of the Portuguese cinema is very special from a personal perspective. The fact that Portugal has undergone a difficult economic crisis in the recent years has definitely influenced the way cinematographers reflect the Portuguese society. Furthermore many of them still feel a strong affinity towards the cinematographic style of their still living idol Manoel de Oliveira.

When both come together the viewer perceives a quite sad, melancholic or pessimistic mood of the current cinema which excessively uses strong metaphors to deliver their message.  After watching so many films with this tendency I get the wish that filmmakers not “only” reflect their society but also to take responsibility. That could mean to offer new innovative, more positive cinematographic perspectives and ideas. Filmmakers should be aware of their ability to positively influence society and brains. It is also an active role not only passive.

To be clear I don´t want to be unfair. Not everything in the movies was negative.

Finally it is obvious that cinema in Portugal has only very poor public funding. 20 Mio. € per year is far too small. Compared with Germany, where one episode of “Tatort” screened on public TV, costs already 2 mio. € almost every week. If everybody has to share this small pot, mostly the experienced people get stronger support than newcomers. They have to fight much harder and then handle low budgets. Filmmakers can get better financing in the commercial sector but this mostly leads to mainstream cinema, which is not really exportable to other countries and for sure not as art-house cinema.

Positively expressed, I personally belief it to be very important to have such a great kaleidoscope of Portuguese movies gathered around one place. This is the best way to be always on top of the recent cinema developments. And tendencies might change over the years.

Thank you very much for setting up such a great cineastic event!

Ruben Miranda, Kommunales Kino Freiburg, Germany, KAN-KAN Media

12.2014, Freiburg  – Germany

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