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The shoot for The Forest of the Lost Souls wraps


- After being shot in Portugal and Spain, José Pedro Lopes’ feature debut will enter post-production in Dubai

The shoot for The Forest of the Lost Souls wraps
Actors Jorge Mota and Daniela Love in a scene from The Forest of the Lost Souls

After 23 days spread intermittently across seven months, producer-turned-director José Pedro Lopes has wrapped the shoot for his feature debut, The Forest of the Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Perdidas) [+see also:
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. Produced by Anexo 82 with the support of GDA funds and made in partnership with Dubai-based Studio 2203, the movie aims to combine the depth of character-driven indie films with the slasher style of renowned ‘70s and ‘80s horror titles.

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The fantastic genre has always particularly appealed to Lopes, who has mainly produced horror shorts since he created Anexo 82 in 2011 with his partner, Ana Almeida. In the transition from the short to the feature format, the idea of sticking to genre films prevailed, but the way he decided to deal with it became more ambitious: “I have always been a big fan of horror films such as Halloween, but Carpenter’s films aren’t really character-orientated. In this film, I wanted to do a sort of a cross between Carpenter’s and Linklater’s styles,” explained the young director, for whom “bad hipster films” were also an unexpected source of inspiration. 

So how did all of these references get blended together in his first feature? Through the splitting of a suicidal plot into two separate moments. “The film’s initial setting is a reference to the Aokigahara forest in Japan – reportedly a popular place for locals with suicidal instincts,” Lopes told Cineuropa. From that starting point, he wrote the story of an old man, devastated by his daughter’s death, who heads into a forest to commit suicide. Once in the wild, he meets a young girl who is apparently there with the same intention. An unexpected bond between them ends up leading to conversations that eventually unveil their pasts and the reasons that led them to such a drastic decision. 

Shot in the Caramulo mountains in the centre of Portugal and in Spain’s Sanabria Lake region, the first part of the movie centres exclusively on the encounter between these two characters. Instead of blood and special effects, its main focus is on fluent and realistic dialogues. Then, a plot twist takes the action into a totally different setting and paves the way for a very different cinematic approach, this time openly influenced by slasher films. Black-and-white photography, initially well lit and then getting progressively darker, also contributes to this narrative and aesthetic transition.

The cast includes veterans Jorge Mota and Lígia Roque, who appear alongside newcomers Daniela Love, Mafalda Banquart and Tiago Jácome. “They all have a theatrical background, which was quite helpful in the process of giving the original script a more realistic and dynamic tone,” added the director.

Currently at the editing stage, The Forest of the Lost Souls will soon enter audio post-production in Dubai. After that, Lopes hopes to show it on the fantastic-film-festival circuit all across Europe, whilst looking for a local theatrical distribution combined with VoD platforms.

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