Rio Corgo: Walking to leave a footprint
by Muriel Del Don
- BERLIN 2016: Sergio Da Costa and Maya Kosa present their latest, touching documentary in the Forum section of the Berlinale
Following an awe-inspiring premiere at the Doclisboa International Documentary Film Festival (where it won the Liscont Award for Best Portuguese Documentary in competition), Rio Corgo [+see also:
film profile] by Sergio Da Costa and Maya Kosa continues its journey to the Berlinale, screening in the Forum section.
The latest, powerful documentary by the pair of Swiss directors Sergio Da Costa and Maya Kosa (originally from Portugal and Poland, respectively), both of whom were trained at the prestigious HEAD University of Art and Design in Geneva, deals with solitude and isolation, but also solidarity and escape, through the miraculous filter of fantasy.
Silva is a romantic vagabond who seems to have come from a different time, an unlikely blend of Don Quixote and Lazarillo de Tormes from the picaresque novel. His life is characterised by a primitive form of vagrancy in and around the mysterious lands of northern Portugal. Silva has been everything: a shepherd, a barber, a gardener, a clown, a wizard and much more besides, but now he says he is no longer anything, as if life were giving up on him, slowly but surely. There is nothing left but his footsteps, getting ever slower and more laborious, which echo amidst the tiny streets of a remote Portuguese village where he has decided to retire. His foppish mariachi “allure” mirrors his inner world, made up of ancestral myths and traditions from a bygone age. The ornately embroidered sombrero, the inevitable pair of cowboy boots and the enchanting rings that adorn his hands (a kind of reflection of his soul) are just some tangible signs of a past when Silva, king of the wanderers, reigned over his imaginary realm.
The inhabitants of the village that he has chosen as a haven seem not to accept him – only a little girl is drawn into his fantastical stories. Rio Corgo (also) talks about legacies and the need to hand down your own story to someone who will able to treat it with respect. Like the little girl, Da Costa and Kosa are witnesses to a rich and enigmatic past that becomes indelible, thanks to cinema. With both empathy and a certain fondness, their camera follows a character who knows he has reached the end of the line in his own existence and who, like a wounded animal, seeks refuge in nature, a kind of cradle where he can forget the complications of the present. His visions, his crises and the ghosts of his past appear on the screen as if by magic, in a sort of mysterious (and porous) game between reality and fiction. Indeed, Silva is a character who is simultaneously real and imaginary, as if his life were nothing but the fruit of his own peculiar fantasies. His existence, like an endless march towards the end, has been nothing but a string of surreal adventures inhabited by mysterious creatures.
In Rio Corgo, so-called “madness” is transformed into something sublime, a no man’s land where the world’s judgement no longer counts for anything. Powerful, fearless and in many ways unclassifiable, Silva is portrayed on the big screen in all his complexity and fragility. The two directors never attempt to provide any explanations for his unpredictable behaviour; on the contrary, they support it in a search for understanding through the medium of film. Rio Corgo is a screen adaptation of a life, with its highs and lows, with its inevitable moments of enthusiasm and of rationality. The biographical elements are used as a basis and a necessary support for telling a story that, thanks to cinema, becomes majestic and eternal. A film that is as melancholy and cathartic as a Fado tune.
(Translated from Italian)