Horse Money: Pedro Costa films Ventura in the city
by Vitor Pinto
- One of the most highly acclaimed films by international critics in 2014 arrives in Portuguese cinemas this week
Midas Filmes distributes this week one of the most reputed Portuguese films of the year, Horse Money [+see also:
film profile]. The movie became a 2014 cinema event at its first screening in Locarno where it earned Pedro Costa the Award for Best Direction (read more). After that, Horse Money embarked on a tour of various international festivals (Seville, Mar del Plata, Greece avant-garde film festival…) and, now that the end of the year is approaching, a number of publications, like the English Sight and Sound or the French Les Cahiers du Cinéma, have ranked it high on their lists of 2014 best feature films.
Produced by Sociedade Óptica Técnica, Horse Money is a movie about comebacks. It's about Costa's return to feature films after trying his hand at a number of shorts. It's also – and above all – about his return to an actor, Ventura, the man from Cape Verde who emigrated to Lisbon decades before, with whom Costa previously collaborated in Colossal Youth [+see also:
film profile] (2006) and in three short films.
Captivating, dreamlike and spooky, Horse Money is also the return to a country's recent past, to the memories of the 1974 revolution, and to the experiences of the African community in a former colonial country learning about the challenges of democracy. Ventura appears alongside two other immigrants from Cape Verde, Vitalina Varela and Tito Furtado. And the three of them, like so many others, could well be puppets of a tragic system and there's no escaping the fate of that system. The song Alto Cutelo, by the group Os Tubarões – that plays twice in the movie, once the original, another sung by Ventura – doesn't specify what that fate is, but the lyrics gives us some clues as to the lives of the Cape Verdean diaspora in the metropolis: cheap labour, far from home, exploited in the Lisbon shipyards.
But all this – the memories, the political references, the song that momentarily breaks with the film's severity –, all of this escapes the filter of a conventional and chronologically coherent narration. It's as if the past and the present were deconstructed so that they could later merge once more in a series of powerful tableaux vivants superbly created by Costa's and Leonardo Simões' camera.
Also on screens this week is Casanova Variations [+see also:
film profile], an opera film by Austrian Michael Sturminger with production by Paulo Branco, screened in competition at the last San Sebastian film festival (read the review).
The releases of Horse Money and Casanova Variations complete the list of 37 national production (or co-production) titles distributed in 2014, a year in which just one Portuguese film, Os maias – Story of a Portuguese Family [+see also:
film profile], by João Botelho, succeeded in overcoming the obstacle of 100,000 viewers.
(Translated from Spanish)