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“We need more film education for young Europeans”

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Teresa Villaverde • Director


- Cineuropa met up with Portuguese director Teresa Villaverde at the Bergamo Film Meeting

Teresa Villaverde  • Director
(© Enric Vives-Rubio/Publico)

“My next film will be called Colo, a word that means many things in Portuguese and is almost untranslatable into other languages.” Teresa Villaverde – who is a guest at the Bergamo Film Meeting – belongs to the first Portuguese generation of filmmakers who graduated from the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema; she became active in the 1990s, strives to create arthouse films and is today one of the leading figures in Portuguese cinema. Her upcoming project depicts the effects that unemployment has on a family in modern-day Portugal. The shoot for the movie will kick off in September or October, nine years after the director’s last feature, Trance [+see also:
film review
film profile
. “We are actually finishing off the casting in the next few days, and we are working on finding other sources of funding within Europe.” The independent French outfit Sedna Films (Pitchipoï [+see also:
film profile
) will co-produce, supporting the Portuguese filmmaker’s own company, Alce Filmes. The ICA - Istituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual has granted €600,000 of funding to the project. Therefore, following years of cuts in public investment in culture and the freezing of grants from the ICA, the Portuguese film industry is back on its feet once again.

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“In many cities in Portugal, small theatres are closing,” she explains to Cineuropa. “Ninety percent of the films are from Hollywood, and the same titles are in all the multiplexes. In Portugal, young people never watch Portuguese films; even the Portuguese language sounds strange to them! European cinema is not protected, and nor is arthouse cinema in general. We don't get to see Italian films. The owners of the theatres are now also the owners of these big distribution companies, and the owners of small cinemas who want to show arthouse films have a lot of financial problems. They have to deal with the problem of educating teenagers. Young people should watch good European films at school in order to learn to see and eventually enjoy watching good cinema. At this point, there should also be some rules to fix a legal quota regarding European and national films.” 

Can participating in film festivals and awards help with film distribution? “The fact that your film has been selected at Cannes, Berlin or Venice doesn't mean that you will get good distribution. For instance, I had a film that won at Venice, but it was never distributed in Italy.”

Villaverde is in Bergamo to discuss the unique qualities of females in European cinema. “I don't think one can say there is a special way for women to make films, a special look. But still, in many countries today, it is harder for women to make films, get funding, and have proper promotion and distribution. Festivals dedicated to women can be both good and dangerous things... this idea of 'ghetto' is quite bad, but at the same time, it demonstrates that there is a problem. Actually, we have much more male directors than female ones, but the most serious problem is that the decision makers – both in television and in ministries – are generally men.”


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