A Girl of Her Age: A film capturing the spirit of the time
by Vitor Pinto
- Márcio Laranjeira’s docudrama is being shown in the National Competition section of the IndieLisboa festival
A personal and hard-to-define project – lying somewhere between a performative documentary and a melancholic generational portrait – Márcio Laranjeira’s directorial debut, A Girl of Her Age [+see also:
film profile], follows young Portuguese actress Mariana Sampaio in her quest to give her life meaning. Surrounded by bohemian friends and facing a time of economic crisis, one day Mariana unexpectedly decides to leave Lisbon and return to her hometown, Viana do Castelo.
Soon after that, Alex (Alexander David) – a fellow actor recently back from New York – visits her during the local festivities of Our Lady of Agony. And once the two friends get together, they launch themselves into a confrontation of perspectives, discussing their life experiences and reflecting on modern Portugal. This is the socio-political canvas inserted into what was initially conceived as a very intimate project shared by friends: “The film is the portrait of this girl, Mariana, but it is also my portrait, Alex’s and that of our friends who also show up in it. If it had been another girl’s portrait, it is possible that the disenchanted generational tone of the film would not be as strong as it is,” Laranjeira explains to Cineuropa. At the same time, he says, “While making the film, we could not disconnect from the world outside: there were daily news about the crisis, people losing their jobs, street protests… It was impossible not to be contaminated by all of that.”
Laranjeira – who did part of his studies in Argentina – seemed unafraid of obstacles and was determined to shoot against all odds: “In Argentina, I met people who had gone through hard times, several times. They know they cannot count on the future they had dreamt of. I suppose that environment allowed me not to be afraid to get a camera and shoot while I lived there. And then, already back in Portugal, it inspired me not to sit around and wait for better days to shoot that period we were all going through.”
A private docudrama certainly capturing the spirit of the time, A Girl of Her Age was initially developed with a very low budget, backed by Laranjeira’s closest friends and crew. “The film became a sort of a cause for them, and I am profoundly grateful for that,” says the director. Then, a Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation grant helped him to keep the film on track until production outfit Terretreme Films presented the project and eventually won the support of Portugal’s national film body: “It was a special form of support by the ICA geared towards the finalisation of films made during that period when public subsidies had been cut.”
A Girl of Her Age is one of the four Portuguese feature-length films currently screening in the National Competition section of the 12th IndieLisboa.