Redemption: the epistle of Miguel Gomes to Europeans
by Vitor Pinto
- The Portuguese director presented his short film on the Lido, before showing it in Toronto
Already in preparation for his fourth feature, to be entitled One Thousand and One Nights, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes is in Venice for the first time to present his short-film Redemption.
Coproduced between Portugal, France, Germany and Italy and composed exclusively of super 8 and archive images, Redemption is a sort of “epistolary film” in which four characters from different times and places bare their souls, in letters or intimate texts; all off camera.
Firstly, Gomes takes us back to 1975 Portuguese countryside. After the Carnation Revolution, the country had to host the Portuguese citizens who were forced to leave the colonies. A young boy, raised by his uncle, writes to his parents, who had stayed longer in Africa, about how cold, poor and depressing the country seems to him. Archive images combine Portuguese 1970’s rural landscapes with other sequences, which seem to evoke an idyllic Africa – as Gomes had already done in his praised third feature, Tabu [+see also:
interview: Miguel Gomes
interview: Miguel Gomes
Then, we travel to 2011 Milan. Between industrial images and real footage of Mussolini’s downfall, we witness the pathetic narration of an old man. He claims to have loved over one thousand women but never Alessandra, the “blond and mute angel” of his childhood that he was unable to forget.
Paris, 2012: a man about to drop an important political position writes to his baby daughter that she will have access to the best of educations but that she won’t be able to count on his presence at her birthday parties.
Finally, in 1977, a young woman is getting married in Leipzig. That day is however not the happiest of her life and as if that wasn’t enough she can’t seem to get Wagner’s Parsifal out of her mind – would that be enough for her to be accused of betraying the socialist revolution?
The four plots, written by Gomes himself along with his Tabu scriptwriter partner Mariana Ricardo, are full of emotion and irony. Their disarming narrative style combines fake intimacy and real historic facts, taking social realities and European political personalities as a point of departure to create biographies which are at the same time fictional, partial and probably hopeless when it comes to any possibility of redemption.
After its presentation in Venice, Redemption will also be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.
(Translated from French)
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