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Pedro Costa No Quarto da Vanda 2000 © Pedro Costa Jean Eustache Le Cochon 1970 © The Artist Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillxet Itinéraire de Jean Bricard 2008 © The Artists Pedro Costa Ossos 1997 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Casa de Lava 1994 © Pedro Costa DW Griffith The Struggle 1931 Courtesy BFI Stills Pedro Costa O Sangue 1989 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Tarrafal 2007 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Où Gît Votre Sourire Enfoui? 2001 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Ne Change Rien 2009 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Casa de Lava 1994 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa Juventude em Marcha 2006 © Pedro Costa .
near and far. Jean-Luc Godard. as are people fighting in the name of social justice. We want the formal operations to be organized around the goal of shedding light on the causes and the chain of effects. But the fact that Pedro Costa has filmed these places ‘as they are’ means something else. including work by Jean Eustache. we hear Ventura’s voice reciting a love letter while the camera-eye frames a grey corner of the wall which is pierced by the white rectangle of a window. or green. and the politics of that aesthetics. neither a social situation nor a visible display of sympathy for the exploited and the neglected are enough to make art political. who is leaning with his back against the wall. nor does he design his sets to make them commensurate with collective grandeur. He never misses an opportunity to transform the living spaces of these miserable people into objects of art. The only people from the city center who ever come to visit them are nurses. along with the crumbling buildings. seems to do the very opposite. sometimes even their lives. The room where Vanda coughs so hard as to tear apart her chest delights us with its aquarium green walls. who lose themselves in these outskirts more from an intimate crack than from the need to bring relief to suffering populations. though. which shows that situation to be the source of the forms of consciousness and affects that modify it. Jean-Pierre Gorin. the gestures and words which reflect the misery of that world? This is an accusation which confines the conversations in Vanda’s room and Ventura’s drifting to a simple dilemma: either an indiscreet aestheticism indifferent to the situation of the individuals involved. He placed himself in these spaces to observe their inhabitants living their lives. two small candles placed on the same table lend to the miserable conversations or to the needle sessions the allure of a chiaroscuro from the Dutch Golden Age.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA Pedro Costa Tate Modern. there is the repression of the Salazar government. We don’t see any of this in Pedro Costa. a glass. as well as four programmes of films that have inspired him. it might be good to pause a second over an episode from Colossal Youth that can. people who have lost their families. which was Rosi’s horizon yesterday. correspondences. yellow. and Andy Warhol. It favors instead a more complex poetics of exchanges. something that touches on the politics of art. The motion of excavators is a chance to show. in a few ‘tableaux. His films present the lives of Lisbon’s disenfranchised migrants with unflinching honesty and dignity. between activity and passivity. exiled poets saw gutted buildings simultaneously as fantastic sets and as the stratigraphy of a way of living. sculptural bases made of concrete and large walls with contrasting colors—blue. In Rilke’s day already. it is to wonder whether heaven. A plastic water bottle. Here. their raw colors more pleasant to the eye of the art lover than the standardised aestheticism of petit bourgeois home decorations. the painter of the Flight to Egypt of the previous shot. have found themselves in the same slums and under the same living conditions. And. Urged by the voice of his friend Lento. The sound of footsteps announce the character who appears in the next shot: Ventura. and by Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Man. he stopped designing sets to tell stories. further. but that of a marginalized group left to fend for itself. In Casa de Lava. The homes of the poor are on the whole gaudier than the homes of the rich. Colors quite similar to the colors of the bottles outline arabesques in which we can recognize the Sacred Family fleeing to Egypt with a sizeable cohort of angels. Ne Change Rien. JeanMarie Straub & Danièle Huillet. Their mode of life is not that of the exploited. from former colonies in Africa. These three well-known works are specifically situated: we are seeing the walls of the Gulbenkian Foundation. .’ sum up the aesthetics of Pedro Costa. After Ossos. their health. inside and outside. beautiful work includes his new film. in an open-air amphitheatre designed to evoke ancient grandeur and modern struggles for liberation. Birkbeck. Pedro Costa. Pedro Costa’s camera never once takes the usual path from the places of misery to the places where those in power produce or manage it. He does not inscribe the slums into the landscape of capitalism in mutation. and displacements. flanked by a portrait of Hélène Fourment by Rubens. As it starts. If they discuss it at all. Ventura’s reading slowly fades out. Filmmakers before Pedro Costa. first. the men and women of the people who confront history and proudly proclaim the project of a just world. Nothing in the preceding shot announced this visit. however. University of London. UK Branch. the occasion for a beautiful still life. With support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The next shot introduces a quite brutal change of setting: the still life that served as the set for Ventura’s reading is succeeded by yet another colored rectangle taken from a still darker section of wall: a painting whose frame seems to pierce with its own light the surrounding darkness which threatens to encroach on its edges. Starr Auditorium 25 September – 4 October 2009 Acclaimed Portugese filmmaker Pedro Costa’s work is marked by extraordinary intimacy and trancelike stillness. between what is given and what is seized. due to drugs and deteriorating social conditions. Still. That is to say. and Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS). We don’t see in his films the economic power which exploits and relegates. and the machine which gives the actions and words of the inhabitants the time to be acted out. are one and the same. capture their secret. to hear what they say. Some might say that this is not a deliberate choice. and who yesterday were dumped in suburban slums and subsequently moved to new homes—better lit. is where things become difficult. Others. Pedro Costa’s method explodes precisely this system of oppositions and this topography. The police is absent from their universe. and remains Straub’s today. of people who have come from afar. a building that is obviously not in Ventura’s neighborhood. This. which makes it its task to record. take the opposite approach. which sends its opponents off to camps situated on the very spot from where African immigrants leave in search of work in the city. or of rebelling against it. another accusation: what politics is this. We usually expect there to be a mode of representation which renders the situation of exploitation intelligible as the effect of specific causes and. on those sites. though. We never hear any of his characters speaking about the political stakes of the situation. The director has brutally transported Ventura to this museum. in the ‘normal’ setting of Ventura’s existence: that of an immigrant worker who shares a run-down place with a fellow Cape Verdean. They distance their cameras from ‘the misery of the world’ in order to show. or their weakness is responsible for their lot. A number of other sensitive themes are joined to this fundamental situation. To see it at work. and there is nothing in the film to suggest that Ventura has a taste for painting. for example. the poor whites. but simply the reality of a social mutation: the immigrants from Cape Verde. their own choice. more modern. which represses or displaces populations. like Jean-Marie Straub. there is the life of young people from Lisbon who. to work on Portuguese construction sites. a knife. But if this answer absolves the director of the sin of aestheticism. exploited and militant. This first UK retrospective of Costa’s risk-taking. The accusation of aestheticism can be met by saying that Pedro Costa has filmed the places just as they are. The virtuosity with which the camera plays with colors and lights. a few objects left on a deal table in a squatted apartment: there you have. or a populism that gets trapped by that same situation. It is to situate his way of working in an all too simple play of oppositions between the wealth of colors and the misery of the individuals. the four glass bottles on the window sill compose another still life. or the power of administrations and the police. not necessarily more livable. His films are about a situation seemingly at the heart of the political issues of today: the fate of the exploited. is to inscribe the work of the director in a very petty topography of high and low. closed off for the shooting of this scene. against which we see the flight of mosquitoes and gnats. £5 (£4 concessions) Season ticket £40 (£30 concessions) The Politics of Pedro Costa Jacques Rancière How are we to think the politics of Pedro Costa’s films? The answer appears simple at first. As night descends on this space without electricity. and the marginalized youth of his films bear no resemblance at all to the proletariat. he gave up exploiting misery as an object of fiction. The inhabitants of Fontainhas live their lot in the way that was so stigmatized during the time of Brecht: as their destiny. for months and months. The episode places us. under a light that strokes the set. it immediately raises another suspicion. What are we to think of the way Pedro Costa places his camera in these spaces? It’s common to warn people who have chosen to talk about misery to remember that misery is not an object for art. show the machinery that regulates and displaces the poor. pink. like Francesco Rosi. starting with Ossos. which we suppose by the echoing footsteps and the night light to be empty of visitors.
She stayed there after his death and was adopted. the sounds from outside. a metaphor that speaks in the film about the art of the filmmaker: of its relationship to the art in museums. composes a very specific poetic displacement. The greenery of the scene.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA The relationship between the three paintings and the filmic ‘still life’ that immediately precedes them. far from the din of poor neighborhoods and from the supermarkets whose merchandise he used to have to protect from widespread shoplifting. about their politics.’ The social-housing employee cannot verify the presence of these spider webs on the ceiling anymore than we can. There used to be nothing here at all but a marsh. forms. It was Ventura. a car. but to make an art commensurate with the experience of these travelers. punctuated by bird cries. The painting’s golden frame strikes us as a stingier delimitation of space than the window of the house. the ceiling in the new apartment he is shown by a fellow from Cape Verde who in many ways resembles the museum employee. The letter. as a way of canceling out everything that surrounds it and of rendering uninteresting all that is outside of it—the vibrations of light in the space. and continues reading the love letter he wants to teach to Lento. which Ventura had requested for his fictive family. It is an episode constructed around a double return: the return to Ventura’s reading of the letter. as the saying goes. or that the scene should brutally end with him indicating the spot where he fell. which becomes for the viewer not a letter sent from the death camp by the deported man. that museums are closed off to the workers who build them. carried the construction materials. By placing Ventura in such a setting. but by Leão from a construction site in Portugal. The letter first appeared in the papers of Edith. and the fall. the grandeur of a collective adventure for which the museum seems incapable of supplying an equivalent. This letter. built the plumbing system. It was here. of an art that does not split itself off from life. together with that between the decaying home and the museum. is a refuge. it seemed. He sits hunched over at a table. a worker who. as good disciples of Leonardo da Vinci. the transformation of a swamp into an art foundation. The politics of the episode would be to remind us that the pleasures of art are not for the proletariat and. together with other workers. because it is the performance of an art of sharing [partage]. laid down the terrace. in the conversation between Ventura and the museum employee during which we learn why Ventura fits into this displaced setting. It does not justify the fact that the scenes shot inside the museum should be so silent. and also just as eager to wipe clean the traces of Ventura’s intrusion on this sterile place. and colors in their movement. A silent shot shows us a museum guard who is himself black walk up to Ventura and whisper something in his ear. and also the workers who’ve come from the islands of Cape Verde. erected the statue of the place’s founder. by the black community. Ventura in this scene is a chronicler of his own life. which lived off of her pension. returning to a wooden shack with a dilapidated roof. Leão’s younger sister. and perhaps even that between the love letter and the paintings on the walls. But this simple lesson does not justify the museum being deserted. that the love letter had been written by the sentenced man. To begin with. This becomes explicit in the gardens of the Foundation. and by the same token. the performance Ventura wants to share [partager] with Lento. It could be Ventura who has. Albeit more discreetly. It is the space of a stingy art. He is. and a three-penny bouquet. and which they themselves can enjoy. and thanked her with serenades. The problem with the white walls that welcome the worker to the housing project is the same as the problem of the dark walls of the museum which reject him: they keep at bay the chance figures in which the imagination of the worker who crossed the seas. We’ve already heard this in Ventura’s narrative about his departure from Cape Verde on 29 August 1972. would be an illustration of the poem in which Brecht asks who built Thebes. from the exact day of his arrival in Portugal. it already scanned the ‘fictional’ film of which Colossal Youth is the echo and the reverse: Casa de Lava. an art that has emerged from them. As Ventura walks out of the room. however. The colored arabesques of the Flight to Egypt show no straightforward superiority over the shot of the window with four bottles in the poor lodgings of the two workers. strictly speaking. the way Ventura towers over the guard. or that the camera should linger on the concrete steps of the service stairs down which the guard escorts Ventura. to read. and of the relationship that one art and the other forges with the body of its characters. It is as stingy towards the sensible wealth of his experience as to the light that shines on even the most miserable homes. both with his attitude—he offered no resistance to being escorted out of the gallery. It had seemed. about the dream of offering the beloved a hundred thousand cigarettes. a little house made of lava. It talks about a separation and about working on construction sites far from one’s beloved. as he finally emerges from his coma. The problem is not really to open the museum to the workers who built it. Ventura himself had already manifested that. It is. who can’t read. from the experience of displaced people or their means of mitigating absence and of coming closer to their loved one. Mariana gave the letter to Tina. Ventura would represent all those people who have constructed buildings. which is recited many times. and eventually out of the museum through the service stairs—and with his gaze. in any case. We might think he is envisioning the scaffolding he fell from. he says. at Leão’s bedside. though. That is what we learn from the episode which follows Ventura’s brutal fall. that he fell from the scaffolding. in sum. where ‘father’ and ‘daughter’ amuse themselves seeing. The art on the walls of the museum is not simply a sign of the ingratitude towards the person who built the museum. then. in short. an actor who renders visible the singular grandeur of that life. The guard tells him later: this museum. in her confusion. at great danger to their health and lives. with its seven gates and other architectural splendors. The relationship of Pedro Costa’s art to the art displayed on the walls of the museum exceeds the simple demonstration of the exploitation of workers for the sake of the pleasures of the aesthete. the solemn tone of his voice as he seems to recite a text that inhabits him—all of this is very far from every narrative of misery. the museum is not the place of artistic wealth opposed to the penury of the worker. too. We understand: Ventura is an intruder. has also injured his head. which they themselves have no right to enjoy. just as convinced that Ventura is not in his element in this apartment. Tina appropriates the letter. clothes. they are nothing when compared to the decaying walls of his friend Lento’s or of Bete’s place. and slipped and fell from the scaffolding can be on a par with that of the artist. That might be why Ventura’s gaze loses itself somewhere in the ceiling. Here. like Ventura. We see Ventura. more precisely still. well above the paintings. But at the hospital. or that Ventura should tell his story. But we might also think of another lost gaze fixed on an angle of another ceiling. much as Ventura’s figure exceeds that of the worker robbed of the fruit of his labor.’ And anyway. and a flashback to the accident. who cleaned up the area. even if insects do crawl up and down the walls of this housing project. the story of a nurse who goes to Cape Verde in the company of Leão. as it was written in Creole. belongs neither to the film nor to Ventura: it comes from elsewhere. which scrutinized some enigmatic point situated. or that the silence inside the museum should be followed by a long panoramic shot. his arrival in Portugal. The episode. A metaphor which speaks. and planted the grass at its feet. the sound of the world. It also speaks about the soon-to-be reunion which will grace two lives for twenty or thirty years. But when Mariana asks Leão about it. Ventura had majestically extended his arms towards the ceiling and uttered a lapidary sentence: ‘It’s full of spider webs. we have to tie the relationships of reciprocity and nonreciprocity into a much more complex knot. it is because it excludes all that lives from displacements and exchanges: light. an exile from the big city who went to Cape Verde to be near her lover. the guard pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes clean the traces of Ventura’s feet. If the museum excludes the worker who built it. empty even of those people who do benefit from the work of the Venturas of this world. but on a different construction site. Ventura here is something completely different from the immigrant worker who represents the condition of immigrant workers. chased frogs from the city center. the epic tone of the discoverers of a new world. The politics here might seem quite easy to grasp at first. imperiously insists that Lento come play cards. This letter is written for one person only. his answer is peremptory: how could he have written the love . its own artistic performance. If we hope to understand this scene. ‘spider webs in the attic. of the surrounding trees. sent by Salazar’s regime to the Tarrafal concentration camp. on 29 August 1972. his head now in a bandage. In answer to the spiel about the sociocultural advantages of the neighborhood. bushes and frogs. is like a refrain for the film. The museum is a place where art is locked up within this frame that yields neither transparency nor reciprocity. the formation of all sorts of fantastic figures. the contrasting colors of the walls. is an old and peaceful world that is disturbed only by the chance visit of someone from their world. Pedro Costa has given him a Straub-like tone. for Ventura has no one to send it to. it talks about the effort to learn a new word every day— words whose beauty is tailor-made to envelope these two beings like a pajamas of fine silk.
stealing. put on some weight. and occasionally even does some baby-sitting. It is also the experience of the crack which interrupts the fairness of exchanges and the circulation of experiences. about making it available to them. the politics here is about being able to return what can be extracted of sensible wealth—the power of speech. On one side. or of vision—from the life and decorations of these precarious existences back to them. and become a mother. Dreyer or Tarkovsky. what we can expect from the cinema. He is a sort of sublime drifter. by the poetry of clinking glasses or of a conversation on the counter of any old diner? Confronted with people who align him with great ‘formalists’ like Bresson. the colorful sets. Pedro Costa’s films. the camera is placed in Vanda’s new room. too. The point is rather to confront what cannot be shared [l’impartageable]. and if Hollywood is still thriving. the cracks that have separated a person from himself. to the wounded black worker. and who sometimes loses himself in his narrative or in the reciting of his letter. even if it is in order to figure out who cinema can share [partager] this life with. too. and a letter written by a ‘true’ author. There is no aestheticizing formalism or populist deference in the attention Pedro Costa pays to every beautiful form offered by the homes of the poor. The attention and the patience are inscribed. as well as more modest and anonymous directors of B films who crafted wellformatted stories on a tight budget for the profit of Hollywood studios. to the kitchen of the erstwhile camp cook. of the illiterate. about her treatment and health issues. could go and work on construction sites in Portugal. the house which he would not enter but on two legs. or a rocking chair—equal because of the absence of any hierarchy of visual values between people. and of great poets are captured together in the same fabric: an art of life and of sharing [partage]. Pedro Costa blames the state of the world. and the loud colors of the slums to the new furniture and the white walls which no longer echo the words of those in the room. or addressed to. and music—the dimension of that which cannot be exchanged. working on refurbishing his house. On the other. anyone in particular. The system makes a sad monk of the director who wants to make his cinema shareable [partageable] like the music of the violin player from Cape Verde and like the letter written jointly by the poet and the illiterate worker. someone who interrupts communication and exchange on his own. whose eyes sometimes shine like those of a wild animal. In Ossos. the letter doubles back to its origin and another circulation is grafted onto the trajectory of the immigrants. but also that of being able to speak in a way that is commensurate with one’s fate. who now and then utters an imperious command or lapidary sentence. this enormous body which has been displaced into the story of Vanda’s new life. lastly. impersonal transaction which links Edith to the dead militant. like a love letter whose words and sentences they can borrow for their own love lives. and to whom it can give it back as his or her life. medical care. of its world. Its message of love loses itself in the grand. the camera follows the often silent Ventura. The stress on the greens of Vanda’s room cannot be separated from the attempts—by Vanda. The problem. one category of owners. the child. about her detox. So. an art of travel and of communication made for those for whom to live is to travel—to sell their work force to build houses and museums for other people. the protests of his friends notwithstanding. This politics is a stranger to that politics which works by bringing to the screen the state of the world to make viewers aware of the structures of domination in place and inspire them to mobilize their energies. and death. At the heart of a system of production entirely subservient to the profit of its studio heads. and the patience with which he listens to the oftentimes trivial and repetitive words uttered in Vanda’s room. one summed up more than . It is true that today. In Casa de Lava. cinema showed itself to be an art of equality. neighborhood cinemas are not. too large or too shy for the set. the crack in Ventura casts the shadow of this enormous and broken body. of borrowing. There seems to be a divorce between two regimes of expression in the passage from the dilapidated walls. but which is separated from the sensorial wealth of their own experience. The experience of the poor is not just that of displacements and exchanges. Even if Vanda is willing to play the role of one of Ventura’s ‘daughters. Pedro or Nurro—to examine their lives and take control of it. are immediately labeled as film-festival material. The letter that Pedro Costa gives Ventura to read belongs to this wide circulation: between here and elsewhere. if he doesn’t know how to write? All of a sudden. rather. the wise and the confused. all the while making arrangements so that they. the domination by the wealthy tends to constitute a world in which equality must disappear even from the organization of the sensible landscape. and to the music of Leão’s father and brother. Robert Desnos. as attributed to. a character from tragedy.’ He films its wealth. Pedro Costa sometimes claims a whole different lineage: Walsh and Tourneur. which is sterile white and filled by a doublebed of the type one finds at discount stores. the stain from the table destined for the teeth of the excavator. committed city folk and exiled workers. as well as the administrative requests. of the public scribe. a way-stop on the road to Terezin. having been replaced by multiplexes that give each sociologically-determined audience a type of art designed and formatted to suit it. landscape.’ even if Ventura sits at her table and chats in her room. after all. in a different politics of art. We shouldn’t confuse this with that old dream of the avant-garde in which artistic forms would be dissolved in the relations of the new world. two regimes of the exchange of words and experiences. It finds its models in the love letter by Ventura/Desnos and in the music of Leão’s family. The point with Ventura is not to gather the evidence of a hard life. it is difficult to tell if Leão’s silence as he lies on the hospital bed is the manifestation of a traumatic coma or the desire not to return to the common world. of reading on walls and of listening to the song of humans and birds. of the irreparable. and privately enjoyed by. and whose head is more often bent down than held up: the distracted gaze of a sick man. with Edith’s ‘madness. Ventura is not an ‘immigrant worker. the wealth that anyone at all can become master of: that of catching the splendor of a reflection of light. something reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of a film-buff elite and tendentiously pushed to the province of museums and art lovers. her loss as to what to do with the child in her arms other than take the child with her to their deaths. Zita. Isn’t that. Colossal Youth is split between two logics. All the wealth in this landscape has to appear as separated. whose bread and music Mariana has shared. and giving back. for their art is one in which the form is not split off from the construction of a social relation or from the realization of a capacity that belongs to everyone. the literate and the illiterate. The death of the militant in the camp of the Salazar regime and the wound of the immigrant who works on construction sites in Portugal establish—at the heart of the circulation of bodies.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA letter. or objects1. the popular art of the twentieth century. It portrays him as a strange animal. a horse. But in extending its addressees. who wrote his letter sixty years earlier from camp Flöha in Saxony. the letter seems not to have been written by. and who didn’t for all that fail to get the audiences of neighborhood cinemas to enjoy the equal splendor of a mountain. Still. the art that allowed the greatest number of people—people who would not walk into a museum—to be thrilled by the splendor of the effect of a ray of light shining on an ordinary setting. on her narrative at the same time that it lends vanity to it. meaning the naked domination of the power of money. They continued. The system gives the humble the pocket change of its wealth. and in the new apartment where we see Vanda after she has kicked her habit. which it formats for them. the deserving husband. The politics here. but who would not go visit Leão at the hospital. Pedro Costa does not film the ‘misery of the world. like every work that eludes this formatting process. in the process bring with them their experience. of course. as we unfortunately know. Pedro Costa wrote the letter by mixing two sources: a letter by an immigrant worker. And. We can describe this intimate divorce using terms taken from on old quarrel. instead. their way of living and loving. There. It now seems like a letter written by a public scribe adept at putting into form the feelings of love. This means that Leão’s fictional destiny and Ventura’s real one are brought together in a circuit which links the ordinary exile of workers to the death camps. is about thinking the proximity between art and all those other forms which can convey the affirmation of a sharing [partage] or shareable [partageable] capacity.’ her ‘forgetfulness’ of the Portuguese language and her confinement to booze and Creole. their music. This is the television in Vanda’s room.’ a poor man entitled to be treated with dignity and to share in the pleasures afforded by the world he has helped build. words. this particular deal of the cards is not the only reason behind the break in reciprocity and the separation between the film and its world. is that capitalism is not what it used to be. there is Tina’s silence. like a song they can enjoy. It also means that the art of the poor. a mellower and plumper Vanda talks about her new life. nevertheless. The luminous still life composed with a plastic bottle and a few found objects on the white wooden table of a squat is in harmony with the stubbornness with which the redhead uses his knife to clean. which classes as ‘films for film-buffs’ the work of directors who try to bring to everyone the wealth of sensorial experience found in the humblest of lives. For that.
especially in retrospect. a Cape Verdean immigrant and a bricklayer in Lisbon. and footsteps of the characters—not in order to make films. ou o cinema de Pedro Costa ‘Blood’ is a special first feature – the first features of not-yet auteurs themselves forming a particular cinematic genre. nor Vanda. provided to Costa by the geographer Orlando Ribeiro . and of infinite flight. Cristiano Andrade Alves. These family letters. A tiny village on the bank of the Tagus river. or be one in their body? Vermeer’s and the Straubs’ people dominate their space. Manuel João Vieira. Cinema cannot be the equivalent of the love letter or of the music of the poor. a gesture. The opening shots of a volcanic eruption – borrowed from a film called A ‘Erupção do Vulcão da Ilha do Fogo’. There were once two teenagers and a child. or.secondrundvd. Isaach de Bankolé. any position they take is provisional. cautioned Bresson. (‘Not even the dead are at peace here. but the human being. O preto é uma cor. 1:1. which every day mechanically films the words.impose a sense of the pre-human. between two risks: the risk of platitude. (…) The characters are all exiles. The next sequence is a series of close shots of women standing in a rocky landscape. ‘Casa de Lava’ is a suite of wonderful plays on depth- © Jacques Rancière . with a gaze. Mariana waits for someone to claim Leão and waits for him to wake up. Edith Scob. Produced by Trópico Filmes with: Pedro Hestnes. This time he seems to have disappeared for good. Pedro Miguel Two brothers. Isabel de Castro. Pedro Costa says things differently: the patience of the camera. in just this way. then they are portraits. Producer: Paulo Branco. the well-intentioned nurse: your skull is not fractured. Luis Miguel Cintra. 17 year-old Vicente and 10 year-old Nino. the objector asks the man of letters.’ Chris Fujiwara. João Medina. What has happened? The elder brother and a very young girl are the only ones to know the secret. This new surface must be hospitable to the division which separates portrait and painting. b/w. while at the same time conserving their mystery. If they are real. A nurse. 35mm. advice which Godard quotes). Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. nothing is like she expected. Cinematography: Martin Schäfer. meditate. 2007) 119. their ‘secret side’ (‘don’t go showing every side of a thing’. Loved your shadow so much. A shadowy being who comes. Mariana. Sound: Pedro Caldas. When she arrives. some ‘displacement’ of air and energy. The women are looking at something. 35mm. in the confrontation with the crack. A native of the island says as much to Mariana. and comes again. Pedro Costa’s greatness is that he simultaneously accepts and rejects this alteration. of the suitcases thrown into rooms through absent windows. the father. If we look back to the classical American cinema we find that same secret alliance that existed among Nicholas Ray’s rebels. She gets increasingly involved with the mysterious Fogo volcano community. rather. it must agree to be the surface upon which the experience of people relegated to the margins of economic circulations and social trajectories try to be ciphered in new figures. Arrangements are made for him to return to his homeland. let’s say they are looking at various somethings: orientation without orientation. pure fiction. and a rare combination in cinema. Manuel Andrade Leão. zombies. Nuno Ferreira. José Eduardo. It must split itself off. Fora! Out! (Porto: Fundação de Serralves. Cinematography: Emmanuel Machuel.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA two centuries ago by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the Preface to The New Heloise. O SANGUE / Blood Portugal 1989. falls off the scaffolding and enters a deep coma. hollows out that body into something ghostly and incorporeal: it is a vibrant paradox. The boys are united by a secret closely related to their father’s absence: he vanished because he got sick or maybe because he was involved in some type of suspicious activity.66. The screen where the third character should appear is stretched between these two experiences. Producer: Victor Gonçalves.com CASA DE LAVA Portugal / France 1994. Raul Andrade. The crack splits experience into those that can be shared [partageable].33. the adventure begins… I have dreamed so much of you. so shrouded in questions that go to the very heart of its status as a depiction of the real. Then back to the young man: ‘Do what you want with me. The Mystery of Origins Costa’s people are often disembodied. a stranger to our lives2. Canto e Castro. worthy of Sam Fuller: start the piece instantly. without any roots. May 1945) ‘Casa de Lava’ starts several times. Inês Medeiros. To set the motor of the intrigue going – even if that intrigue will be so shadowy. 2 Fora! Out!. Sound: Henri Maikoff. Luís Santos.’ The father picks up his suitcase (insert shot) and begins to walk off … The beginning of ‘Colossal Youth’ also announces. 1 See Pedro Costa and Rui Chaves. are they real or fictive. footsteps: a young man has his face slapped. Perhaps it was from Huillet and Straub’s ‘Class Relations’ that Costa learnt the priceless lesson of screen fiction. Editing: Dominique Auvray. Nothing is left of me but a shadow among shadows. (…) Costa uses fiction. They are shapes. An art must be made in the place of another. a perfect image (reminiscent. a door slamming. down an endless road in the wilderness) to an older man. Jacques Tourneur. in your sunlit life. of beings restlessly on the move from the moment they begin to exist in the image. Gérard Rousseau. something dropped like a heavy stone to shatter the calm of pre-fiction equilibrium. not Straub. 110 min Direction and screenplay: Pedro Costa. Adrian Martin. quasi-fictional. Editing: Manuela Viegas. not firmly located on either side of the nonexistent border. Pedro Hestnes. A being a hundred timwes more shadowy than a shadow. on a Surrealist plane. in the life narratives. Ana Otero. a pure inhospitability. Henrique Viana. 95 min Direction and screenplay: Pedro Costa. in Cape Verde. João Bénard da Costa. in that journey that will isolate them. colour. and they don’t get mixed in that insolvable night in the graveyard.’ on the other hand. António Andrade. its immortal story: bags thrown out a window. and as such enclosed in the family of social identifications. chronicle and tragedy. ‘Imaginary paintings. or Ventura’s painting. a character who is.115. that his cinema is simultaneously a cinema of the possible and of the impossible. Cut (in a stark reverse-field. No one seems to be waiting for Leão or even to care for him. Miguel Fernandes. It can no longer be the art which gives the poor the sensible wealth of their world. What this means is that Costa achieves ‘moments’ which are pure cinema. and we expect portraits to be faithful to the model. the painting of the crack and the enigma which renders family portraits and narratives futile. after the sound (under the black screen) of a car stopping. p. provided they resemble. This makes them not very interesting to people who are not members of the family. Their division lies in that separation. But the emergence of this impersonal also gets caught up in the disjunction in its turn: it is hard for this third character to avoid becoming either Vanda’s portrait. talked so often with you. Robert Desnos. pure intrigue. but as an exercise in approximating the secret of the other—must bring a third character to life on the screen. Costa’s are visitors. since Costa never establishes that these women are in the same place facing in the same direction. The Inner Life of a Film Pedro Costa’s BLOOD (O Sangue) is available NOW on Second Run DVD www. Some of these women will be (and maybe are not yet) characters in the film – in the same way that the people in ‘In Vanda’s Room’ and ‘Colossal Youth’ are characters in those films: quasi-real. reciprocity and rift. figures in incredibly beautiful compositions. and is not. Walked so often. nor Ventura. in Ruiz’s ‘City of Pirates’) of dispossession. Last Poem (Terezina Concentration Camp. and those which cannot [impartageable]. not a particular individual. gives it a body. and that will make them as lost in space as they were from their own time. Sanda do Canto Brandão. Does Costa instruct his actors not to think. But these teenagers are not really rebels. eager for a change of scenery. a movement. the sign of a ceaseless moving on and moving in. Produced by Madragoa Filmes in co-production with Pandora Film and Gemini Films with: Inês Medeiros. interest the public. gestures. volunteers to accompany him. So ‘Blood’ begins sharply. when they get hold of the unshared secret of the child. 1:1. never quite here. but simultaneously abstracts. Nothing is left me of you. A character who is not the director.
Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa ‘Ossos’ comes from very familiar things. They have been deserted. his careful attention to time and detail. the kind of movie Kieslowski claimed is impossible because ‘there are spheres of human intimacy in which one cannot enter with a camera. A torn curtain. when moving out of despair. But there are also moments of astonishing tenderness in which they seem even more defenseless. but why? It will inhibit the viewer’s imagination instead of opening it up and you say to yourself: ‘yes. A work of friendship and dedication and a lesson of cinema. house after house. 104 min Direction and cinematography: Pedro Costa. RTSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana and Radiotelevisão Portuguesa (RTP) Producer: Francisco Villa-Lobos. All my houses. more doleful than denying. As in his first film. If we had been better… they wouldn’t have been demolished.’ Costa had found his way into these spheres. and talking trash. Then one fine day… One . to make this sequel-of-sorts. Producer: Paulo Branco. irregular work and must struggle to create a space of their own in a neighborhood (Fontainhas in Lisbon) that we can see being torn down around them. Costa’s blocky compositions and elliptic editing. Cinematography: Emmanuel Machuel. Pedro Costa NO QUARTO DA VANDA / In Vanda’s Room Portugal / Germany / Switzerland 2000. He follows Vanda Duarte over the course of one year. and twice uses extreme shallow focus to flaunty effect. even love that is palpable. 35mm. It comes from Chaplin. Nuno Vaz. The soulful close-ups Costa accords his abject characters verge on the beatific—the soft. why add another one?’ And so you renounce. I have lived in ghost houses that others left behind. Editing: Dominique Auvray. a loaf of bread. things you can easily recall. Beatriz Lopes. Editing: Jackie Bastide. two or three kitchens. and he has not yet totally surrendered the use of professional actors (Inês Medeiros as the prostitute. 35mm. without anything. I took it as documentary. lightweight cameras. It develops the filmmaker’s penchant for elliptical narrative structures. in one of the film’s plainest. Evangelina Nelas. Fernando Paixão. a study of characters and their gestures. a prostitute. Isabel Ruth. Costa still holds close his passport for what Godard called ‘this beautiful land of narrative. offscreen sound indicating contiguous space. which sometimes leaves one scrambling across chasms of excised incident and ambiguous relationships. long-haired father with his faraway gaze evokes one of Bellini’s musing Madonnas—and the exquisite lighting turns two symmetrical shots of a photograph. colour.33. deeply involved with their lives and the spaces they inhabit and where they move. his young parents. the people they cross in their actions. ZDF Das Kleine Fernsehspiel. to documentary. Produced by: Contracosta Produções in co-production with Pandora Film. but a documentary of unprecedented candor. saving it. 1:1. ZDF Das Kleine Fernsehspiel.’ So we see Vanda Duarte and her friends smoking smack. an immigrant district of Lisbon. even when there are faces. In ‘Ossos’. Later he returned to the film’s location. slowly. 94 min Direction and screenplay: Pedro Costa. Life despises me. and crumpled cigarette packs lying on a red dresser into colorist still lives. as does his partiality for Bressonian effects—tight shots of hands. if you want to know. but you have to look at it from all sides and clarify it. a shantytown in the outskirts of the city. Ventura Film. We see a tiny room measuring only three metres in all directions. Presumably Costa could only have recorded these moments with unassuming. a chamber drama.66. Julião.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA of-field and foreground. His raw verism sometimes lapses into strainmaking coincidence to establish connections between characters. Produced by: Contracosta Produções in co-production with Pandora Film. with a flirtation ballet by lovers with their backs turned – figures. and the gradual destruction of the surrounding buildings. which would be essential in the films to come.33. and sit transfixed by the bleakness of Vanda’s onebed apartment. Mount SaintVictoire. ‘Ghost Stories’ OÙ GÎT VOTRE SOURIRE ENFOUI? / Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? Portugal / France 2001. Costa is also not beyond bravura: He takes obvious pleasure in a long. But. 35mm. Sound: Henri Maikoff. a newborn baby. tricky tracking shot of the father striding down the street. his work with closed and cloistered spaces and his intimate form of portraiture. Vanda and her friend Pedro sit on the edge of her bed talking about the death of their friend Geni. The problem with a shot like this. Inês Medeiros. Editing: Dominique Auvray. shooting up. 178 min Direction and cinematography: Pedro Costa. Ventura Film. Thom Andersen. The boy was a poor junky in real life and the housekeeper is a housekeeper. Diogo Pires Miranda In 1997. it’s nevertheless fiction that carries the film on. Clotilde Montrond. At the heart of the film. 1:1.S. the events that occur and recur daily. Paulo Nunes. I have paid more for something I didn’t do than for the things I’ve done’ Pango. among poor immigrants who can find only casual. Assistant: Thierry Lounas. some keys. then. Berta Susana Teixeira. Zita Duarte. It is a film of portraits and a film of place. for nothing at all. But occasionally. the camera sometimes holding for a beat or two after a figure has departed the frame. as the title announces. ARTE France and the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) with: Danièle Huillet. Produced by Madragoa Filmes in coproduction with Zentopa and Gemini Films with: Vanda Duarte. speeding dangerous cars. Miquelina Barros. moments that recall the most mysterious encounters in the greatest fiction films. Patrícia Saramago. Gérard Rousseau. colour. for instance). to be close to these people who are not actors. Tag Gallagher. Fiction is always a door that we want to open or close. Produced by: Contracosta Produções in coproduction of Amip Paris. he gives her some flowers. the intimacy of the movie is not simply a matter of technique. Geny. Manuel Gomes Miranda. Then you ask yourself. She gives him some medicine. call ‘the underclass. of course. Matthieu Imbert. suggest severity. living in Estrela D’África. Houses where a sorceress wouldn’t want to live. Paulo Jorge Gonçalves. from the melodramas of the beginning of the cinema. Most of us begin with a cliché – not always. There is solidarity. Pedro Lanban. Sound: Matthieu Imbert. RTSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana and Radiotelevisão Portuguesa (RTP) with: Vanda Duarte. A door that keeps us guessing. Pedro Costa directed the feature film Ossos about the fate of one family. And a strong desire to be close to reality. Producer: Francisco Villa-Lobos. 1:1. from No Quatro Da Vanda ‘No Quarto da Vanda’ is also an intimate work. a boy with a baby in the streets. but most of the time – and that’s fine. Maria Lipkina. Sound: Phillipe Morel. Zita Duarte. and the days passed in the thrall of drugs. Producer: Francisco Villa-Lobos. Miguel Sermão. Luísa Carvalho Ossos is Costa’s first film encounter with the migrant Cape Verdean community of Lisbon. Jean-Marie Straub Pedro Costa shot this great portrait of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at work while they were re-editing the third version of Sicilia! at the Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Le Fresnoy. visits from friends and relatives. is getting it done. There must have been a close mutual respect and friendship between Costa and the people he filmed. Blood. out of love. For example (a privileged example in my memory). all the houses were illegal houses. They belong to what some privileged technocrats and their dupes in the U. severe look at the city and the way it shapes and differentiates the lives of those living in its margins. António Semedo Moreno. brightest sequence shot. and doorways. And that. this is a stark. But ‘Ossos’ is more sensual than ascetic. So you start with the idea of discovery… Showing a mountain without the window. I have found a house that was worth the while. Mosca. after having filmed Mount Etna. James Quandt. But even if there’s a desire to make a sort of documentary. Straub Anti-Straub OSSOS / Bones Portugal / France / Germany 1997. locks. Lena Duarte. people that are very similar to the ones they’re depicting.
And it’s precisely what they helped build that defeated them. You have a sort of… reduction. ‘I’d like to offer you 100. Jean-Pierre Gorin. Ventura feels lost between the dilapidated old quarter where he spent the last thirty-four years of his life. The rhetoric of Costa’s portrait goes against all the conventions of film portraiture. is suddenly abandoned by his wife Clotilde. / Every day. They feared they would be deported or imprisoned. Consider what moderation is required to express oneself so briefly. Vanda. my love / Our encounter will make our life more beautiful. every sigh into a novel. Sound: Olivier Blanc. 35mm. sixteen minutes. Cinematography: Pedro Costa. schools and condominiums of the bourgeoisie. the permanent collapse of those rooms. on the other hand that very brevity itself requires an advocate. Ventura Film. museums. No one in Fontainhas believes in democracy. / Tailor-made. the family ties are omnipresent. what to eat. Raçatcho. / The day before yesterday. You can stretch every glance out into a poem. The first word is ‘mum’. I was a kid at the time. It’s Cinema. / Sometimes I lose my energy and imagine that I’m going to forget about myself. Cila Cardoso. a joy in breath – such concentration can only be present in proportion to the absence of self-pity. Producer: Francisco Villa-Lobos. with a pick-axe and cement / You. Olivier Blanc. and. The mother shivers. / I’ll wait. her hands under her arms. colour. Produced by Luís Correia. He survived by repeating and memorizing ‘ad eternum’ his love letter. Jean-Pierre Laforce. Where were they? Ventura told me that they were all huddled together. I looked for some photographs of the May 1st crowds with thousands of people celebrating. André Semedo. their own survival: here a woman and her grown up boy with dreadlocks. that he would be able to save up enough money to bring his wife from Cape Verde. Silhouettes by the glow of their work. constituted a nightmare for Ventura. / Your beautiful hair falls from my hands like blades of dry grass. we are not invited to decipher even the force of conviction in the articulation of an expression: we are just seeing bodies or parts of bodies silhouetted by the tenuous yet potent light that comes from the film material they relentlessly try to shape. But to express a novel in a single gesture. Ungueira. Achada. destroyed men. People like Ventura built the banks. António Semedo. Nine Notes on ‘Où gît votre sourire enfoui’ ? 6 BAGATELAS Portugal / France 2003. Then it’s all about bewitchment . Radiotelevisão Portuguesa and Radiotelevisione svizzera with: Ventura. You need time and patience. José Maria Pina. This love letter had to become a moral and political testament. where voices emerge from the darkness and dwell on endlessly. Pedro Costa TARRAFAL Portugal 2007. Leonardo Simões. receives a letter of extradition. colour. The disinherited speak to master their own lives. Alfredo Mendes Tarrafal is part of ‘The State of the World’ film. (. madness and exploitation still managed to resist. All the young poor souls he meets seem to become his own children. and the faces presented and that we are allowed to glance at always tend to gravitate toward that state: an abstracted two-dimensionality that makes both Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub exist at the periphery of their own work in some patient acknowledgement. Ventura. Alexandre Silva. already dreaming about cinema. with your silence / Such a deep valley that it pushes you towards oblivion. Editing: Pedro Marques. LX Filmes with: José Alberto Silva. Editing: Patrícia Saramago.’ Both are condemned. / I’d like to offer you a hundred thousand cigarettes. One line from Desnos. Then the revolution took place and he told me the secret story of African immigrants in Lisbon after April 25th 1974. just for the two of us. / But before anything else / Drink a fine bottle of wine. probably. Produced by: Contracosta Produções with: Danièle Huillet. she warms herself just thinking about her homeland and feels like putting her bones to rest. / Sometimes I’m frightened about building this wall / Me.33. / Now there are more than a hundred of us. theatres. I become younger and return full of energy. about where to live. / A dozen snazzy dresses. ghosts of other men that despite torture. delirium. fifteen shots. But you don’t do that immediately from one day to the next. / Maybe next time. Nothing is more common. commissioned by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian José Alberto. I went out to the streets. hidden in the Estrela Garden. Unlimited.000 cigarettes. my birthday / Was the time for a deep thought about you. / A four penny bunch of flowers. Alberto Barros. 30 years old. Montinho de Cima. Jean-Marie Straub This is a film haunted by the power of the silhouette. 35mm. stories and dialogues stretching over in the stillness of the night and of the the countryside. Zita. This letter attempts to appease their suffering while announcing far worse horrors. 1:1.) Ventura arrived in Portugal in 1972. Montinho.you don’t see a single black face. 1:1. / But still nothing from your hand. Montinho de Baixo. Assistant: Thierry Lounas. she coughs. / For my part. a declaration of war. Produced by: Contracosta Produções and co-produced by Les Films de l’Étranger. 18 min Direction and cinematography: Pedro Costa. pondering and shaping of its physical properties. Ventura’s Letter Ventura and Desnos were destined to meet. A while ago.’ One line from Ventura. Sound: Vasco Pedroso. Santana near Assomada. Vanda Duarte. sickness. / Did the letter they brought arrive safely? / I receive no reply.’ Arnold Schoenberg on Anton Webern’s ‘6 Bagatelles’ JUVENTUDE EM MARCHA / Colossal Youth Portugal / France / Switzerland 2006. / Here work is non-stop. more concrete than the situations and the informations that we’re offered. meet in a plea for memory and resilience. He was simultaneously a prisoner and guard in his wooden shanty house in Fontainhas. The places are named and listed: Mourão. It’s History.TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA fine day you realize that it’s better to see as little as possible. Editing: Patrícia Saramago.. Sound: Matthieu Imbert. job and he believed that he would succeed. 154 min Direction: Pedro Costa. For Ventura this was a moment of condemnation: chaos. a Cape Verdean labourer living in the outskirts of Lisbon. / Think about me. 1:1. ‘Though the brevity of these pieces is a persuasive advocate for them. Tarrafal. how to build a house. A sigh can become a novel. 16 min Direction and cinematography: Pedro Costa. Beta SP. in his thirties. Would you like that? / I can only send you with one letter per month. I realized that the April 25th Revolution.33. every minute. It is precisely because I film these things in this manner that I don’t believe in democracy. These fragments are not only ‘bagatelles. absolutely terrified. and the new lodgings in a recently built low-cost housing complex. Paulo Nunes. Milho Branco.. A car. The inequities of the past and the injustice of the present situation of migrant labourers forced to leave Portugal. like a fine silk pajama. Beatriz Duarte. The place is before anything else one of these ‘filmmaker’s room’ (Jacques Rancière). the agony of Paulo. / It hurts me inside to see these bad things I don’t want to see. There is a rigor in this abstracting of the human form.’ but a special look at Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub. it’s about returning to Cape Vert. in this willingness to be in such close proximity to a figure and yet to never openly play the game of tracking the revelatory explicitness of an expression. It took place in this film. / The house of lava that you so longed for. Jean-Marie Straub Pedro Costa takes six unused scenes of Où Gît Votre Sourire Enfoui? and edits them into a new context. Nha cretcheu. that for me was a moment of lyrical exaltation and enthusiasm. You have the cruelest proof of this failure in the other rooms. Gustavo Sumpta. colour.33. / Every day I learn some new and beautiful words. he found a well-paid mason. We are not invited to witness the blossoming of a memorized anecdote on a face. It’s incredible . ‘the house of lava that you so longed for. at least for another thirty years. only it’s not a reduction – it’s a concentration and it actually says more. worried about their future. Lucinda Tavares. Paula Barrulas Ventura. demonstrating.
Joël Theux Ne Change Rien was born as a result of the friendship between Jeanne Balibar. Pedro Costa Puissance de la parole is Godard’s elegy about the power of words. Pedro Costa Considered by many to be Eustache’s most beautiful film. Sound editing: Miguel Cabral. for that reason. And what I really (note those three l’s) liked about the film was that its rhythm espouses theirs with a sympathetic camaraderie and little or no cross-cutting between painting and 3-d ‘realism’ which the first and alas last thing my Eisenstein might have thought of. Published in 1939 and a best seller until banned in 1942. France 1988. who narrates the film. it should be an obligation: 90 minutes more of DW Griffith in a film theatre equals 90 minutes less of abstract crap on the screen. standing at a mike. Olivier Blanc. looking as straight and still as Costa’s camera (as usual.or flashy bright cheery Allen Jones cuts.com. superficially his Poor Little Rich Girl. New York Film Festival The Struggle DW Griffith.’ Jeanne Balibar It also turns out Costa’s been making something like concert films for years—Costa. the film has never been subtitled. The movie’s just people jamming. grinning when they find the mainline. and kills them when he returns to collect it. dressed up. from an attic in the Black Forest to the stage of a Tokyo café. from rock concerts to classical singing lessons. that gradually find their bodies (and what’s maybe most dream-like is the tangential realism: an off-screen voice correcting Balibar’s ‘v’s and saying ‘I like consonants too’ David Phelps. Bernard Eisenschitz NE CHANGE RIEN Portugal / France 2009. the look is almost charcoal. Editing: Patrícia Saramago. Maybe being a singer constantly brings back the thrill of my first steps – before words. the Resistance and its brutal suppression. almost. would call their exploitation. scrutinized. Critics have discerned in the film a critique of technology. Beauty #2 Andy Warhol. about loss and resistance. The result’s that players are only seen minimally—in silhouette with a hand waving back and forth. Costa lights bodies like solar flare lines and faces like half-moons. if I remember well. or just an eye and right curl of the mouth—so that the smallest gestures express maximally. from rehearsals to recording sessions. 98 min Direction and cinematography: Pedro Costa. from commercial fishing and farming in the 1930s. Pedro Costa Based on the book by Jean-Yves Petiteau. USA 1931. decried by critics at the time as too ‘Soviet’. Orson Welles to Jeanne Moreau about something else. Still lives with music. building. while her voice and the music. Routine Pleasures Jean-Pierre Gorin. and a dialogue on the origin of creation. On the same tone. slight whites against pitch black backgrounds. as usual. Arnaud Dieterlen. do the emoting for her while she’s just hanging out and trying to find the beat. fellow passengers on a train. makes stage lights look like stars. 66 min Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet have created a bold and beautiful adaptation of Elio Vittorini’s masterwork Conversations in Sicily. but I always thought that being a movie actress felt like returning to life as a newborn: changed. and even religious or mythic meaning (the pig as sacrifice). on the surface. anyway. piped in and out around her. 66 min Beauty #2 is one of Warhol’s rarest films and a next of kin to Costa’s In Vanda’s Room. the simplest shot from a stage right wing as the musicians come out and start. Producer: Abel Ribeiro Chaves. Puissance de la Parole (The Power of Words) Jean-Luc Godard. absolutely. which also show everyday life as staged by the people who live it).TATE FILM PEDRO COSTA and death as in every other film by Pedro Costa. Film Comment). Moving beyond the original’s immediate context—the increasing oppression of pre-war Italy—Straub/Huillet offer a moving look at the state of permanent exile common to all of those who can’t go home again. Sound Mix: Jean-Pierre Laforce. the film features an amazing soundtrack in which the source and originality of natural voices remains captivating. 35mm / 1:1. half-awake—starting with a half-formed image and a montage of sounds and voices. These two shine a light. Balibar’s ongoing concert’s not any different: a woman in a closed room. The film is structured as a series of dialogue encounters— with strangers in a port. but Costa. said. But what’s different in Ne change rien. director) is culpable. Itinéraire de Jean Bricard tells the rich history of the Loire region. 50 min Like candy in a store. It might sound funny. b/w. 15 May 2009 CARTE BLANCHE Itinéraire de Jean Bricard Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Prod uced by: Sociedade Óptica Técnica in co-production with Red Star Cinéma with: Jeanne Balibar. Edie’s ex-lover Chuck Wein taunts and betrays. an ethnographic documentary that captures a dying tradition: the slaughter and processing of a pig on a farm in the southern Massif Central. hands flicking up and down on their knees. The opening shot. like a good mystery novel. emphasizing the distance between what can be seen and felt and what can be expressed. Sicilia! Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. while a Doberman Pinscher named Horse uses his slack leash to appear and disappear from the frame. bring new parts out from shadow. about a vampire that hands its victims a parchment without them noticing. ‘Like a cork along the water stream’. Olivier Blanc. The film plants Edie Sedgwick on a bed seducing (seduced by?) Gino Piserchio.33. its cinematic lineage pointing both back to Dreyer (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) and forward to Olmi’s The Tree of the Wooden Clwogs. Rodolphe Burger. from ‘Johnny Guitar’ to Offenbach’s ‘La Périchole’. France 2008. performers. the mom tells a tale from her land. so that a slight turn of the neck can reconfigure a face’s composition. made up. Cannes 2009: There Outta be a Moonlight Saving Time. Italy/ France 1999. Le Cochon (The Pig) Jean Eustache. and Pedro Costa. The view is detached but sympathetic: ‘With scrupulous respect for popular traditions. A reflection on the livelihood of the past. 25 min I remember Langlois saying that Godard and Warhol had taught us how not to make films. 84 min In these hard times. theautheurs. locos/fingertips. similar to Straub. Vasco Pedroso. acting. Off-screen.do you know that Charles . Pedro Costa Griffith’s brutally intense and underrated final feature. and that being a stage actress brought you back to the enchantment of your first words. gives the most banal acts metaphysical weight: as in a dream— my dreams. and being as a trial – and everyone (audience. displacing the emotions of his statuecharacters to the soundtrack. sound engineer Philippe Morel. Sound: Philippe Morel. probably because it’s a documentary (though about as much a doc as Costa’s other recent films. the act a constellation. like a Sunday walk in the country.’ (Luc Moullet. two wonderful gifts from Eustache and Gorin to enjoy and be thankful. Hervé Loos. 40 min What can one say about Danièle and JeanMarie’s films? They make us feel that cinema is still worth something. even though the thick patois and onomatopoeic accents make the actual spoken words incomprehensible. is the expressiveness of the actors. 81 min When I saw ‘Routine Pleasures’ (on TV) I really identified with those grey routine guys whose occupation is a mini-clone of what Marx K. the novel narrates the return of an intellectual to his native Sicily after a long absence. USA/UK/France 1986. usually diffused bird songs and children’s yelps. left in place for minutes). the bluntly named Le Cochon is. USA 1965. This is performing. France 1970. The film follows Jeanne Balibar. the protagonist’s mother—each of which conceals more than it reveals. before my first stroke – after the age of reason. is a straight-up tale of alcoholism and a startling portrait of urban America during the Depression. through the Occupation. the singer.
even down to timetabling.TATE FILM Routine Pleasures is film essay that grew from the close friendship between Manny Farber and Jean-Pierre Gorin.00 Billie Holiday Sings ‘Fine and Mellow’ O Sangue (Blood) Programme Four Sunday. and deals with method and work. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet Sicilia!.in the case of trains because confronting reality with a real train always has something heroic about it.00 The Struggle. 27 September 15.00 Puissance de la parole (The Power of Words).00 Pedro Costa Juventude em Marcha 2006 © Pedro Costa Programme Six Friday.00 Itinéraire de Jean Bricard. steam against the sky. DW Griffith Programme Ten Sunday.. December 1988 Ne Change Rien Screening introduced by Pedro Costa Programme Seven Saturday. whereas the model has no heroism at all.’ Raymond Durgnat. 26 September 19. 27 September 12.00 Juventude em Marcha (Colossal Youth) Programme Three Sunday.00 Casa de Lava Tarrafal Programme Five Sunday. American culture and landscape. SCHEDULE Programme One Friday. Andy Warhol Programme Eleven Sunday. 4 October 17. not to say consummate anality about…motions.00 Le Cochon (The Pig). 27 September 18.00 . and artistic imagination. Jean-Pierre Gorin Followed by a conversation between Pedro Costa and Jean-Pierre Gorin. 4 October 12.00 No Quarto da Vanda (In Vanda’s Room) Screening introduced by Pedro Costa Programme Two Saturday. Pedro Costa Tarrafal 2007 © Pedro Costa Curator: Stuart Comer Assistant Curator: Marie Canet With special thanks to Ricardo Matos Cabo. 25 September 19. and why bourgeois realism knows the model-reality difference perfectly well but loves pretending that it doesn’t. models-that-only-happen-tobe-toys)? There’s a CAHIERS-style piece here on your film being about films as well as trains. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet Programme Eight Saturday. 2 October 19. 3 October 19. Jean-Luc Godard Beauty #2. Pedro Costa Où Gît Votre Sourire Enfoui? 2001 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa No Quarto da Vanda 2000 © Pedro Costa Pedro Costa O Sangue 1989 © Pedro Costa Où Gît Votre Sourire Enfoui? (Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?) Pedro Costa Ossos 1997 © Pedro Costa & Ray Eames ‘Toccata For Toy Trains’ which is the antithesis of your film (even down to celebrating toys-which-aren’t-models whereas your guy’s mind is deadpan reality-replication. 4 October 14. 3 October 15. steel lunging through space. it’s the apotheosis of infantile –obsessional control. Jean Eustache Routine Pleasures.30 Ossos (Bones) 6 Bagatelas Followed by a conversation between Pedro Costa and Jean-Pierre Gorin. Programme Nine Sunday. both being illusionisms.
Bankside.uk/modern/film Tate Modern.Visit www.tate.org. London SE1 9TG Nearest Southwark / Bankside Pier Pedro Costa O Sangue 1989 © Pedro Costa .
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