Home – The Country of Illusion: When life is a rollercoaster
by Vitor Pinto
- Josephine Landertinger Forero reveals almost everything about her mother in a film that reflects on loneliness and the sense of belonging
Portuguese author José Maria de Eça de Queiroz – whose novel Os Maias was adapted for the big screen two years ago by João Botelho, as The Maias – Story of a Portuguese Family [+see also:
film profile] – once said that a polyglot could never be a patriot. This statement, as arguable and subjective as it may be, could easily be used as an alternative title to Josephine Landertinger Forero’s new film, Home – The Country of Illusion.
Home… is one of those low-budget projects that emerge from the personal stories of its real-life characters; one of those films whose directors seem determined to give those same characters – including their paths through life and their daily routines – a dramatic outline and, by extension, a cinematic dimension. Margarida Leitão did something similar last year, filming herself and her grandmother in the emotional Gypsophila [+see also:
interview: Margarida Leitão
film profile] (read the interview). Forero does something akin to this, but prefers to stay outside the frame, focusing her lens exclusively on her mother, Lilia.
Lilia left her hometown of Bogotá at the age of 23 to join her boyfriend in Malta. After that, she lived in eight countries. Now in her late sixties, she is a widowed mother of two based in Porto and has been fighting for years to overcome her illegal situation. She eventually became a “Portuguese-Colombian citizen”, but the inclusion of this in her passport does not represent who she is and is certainly too reductive when we consider the rollercoaster of a life she has lived.
From behind the camera, Forero questions her mother about choices: the ones she made and the ones that life made on her behalf. Tensions occasionally arise between the two women: some topics remain veiled, while others have the lid blown clean off them. However, thanks to an enjoyable subtleness, a film that could easily turn into a family therapy session actually becomes a melancholic portrait of loneliness and an essay on memory – an interesting choice, as Lilia, constantly reminiscing about her past, is now taking care of an old lady in the process of forgetting her memories, as she suffers from Alzheimer's.
Lilia’s testimonies are interspersed with sequences portraying her current life in Porto: her work, her neighbourhood, her trips to the beach, her participation in the street party for Saint John. But something just doesn’t seem right. Home may be a country of illusion, but illusion is something that life knows how to destroy. Melancholy, unspoken regrets, daily stoicism and survival are all strongly felt here – but not a sense of belonging.
Home… is a co-production between Porto-based Red Desert Films and Bogota’s Global Eyes Production. The premiere is scheduled for early March, at the 56th Cartagena International Film Festival.