“Ice Merchants”, an animated short film directed by Portuguese João Gonzalez, was one of the films nominated for the last edition of the Oscars. Running in the best animated short film category, the short was the first Portuguese entry in the list of nominees for the world’s most famous awards. According to the Short Film Agency, the film has already been shown in more than a hundred film festivals, winning 44 awards, and has been seen by 8 425 spectators.
But the Portuguese cinema has given prior proof of its potential. So, get to know our suggestions for national films. The hard part is choosing.
Aniki-Bóbó (1942), Manoel de Oliveira
It is undoubtedly one of the most important films in Portuguese cinema, and one of the first that comes to mind when Manoel de Oliveira is mentioned.
The tale of this youthful romance in Porto is rather quiet, from an aesthetic viewpoint, but it is fairly consensual that it is one of the first examples of what would become Portuguese neorealism.
The Courtyard of Songs (1942), Francisco Ribeiro
It takes place during the Santos Populares’ festivities in a typical Lisbon neighbourhood and follows the daily lives of a group of people, between loves and dislikes, passions and jealousy. The rivalry between Narciso and Evaristo is one of the highlights of this comedy, which features the actor Vasco Santana in the role of Narciso. It is a game of misunderstandings and double meanings, in a comedy that marked generations – and deserved a remake in 2015.
The Green Years (1963), Paulo Rocha
It was with The Green Years (and Carlos Paredes’ unforgettable soundtrack) that the New Portuguese Cinema began. Besides radically cutting with the cinematographic mandates of the past, the importance of this work lies in the portrait it creates of Lisbon’s society from different points of view of the characters
The jester (1987), José Álvaro Morais
This is the work of director José Álvaro Morais, who was born in Coimbra in 1943 and died in 2004. The jester is a unique film, with the transcendence of feelings about the widespread moral misery and the artistic futility of the 1980s as the main subjects. The production took a decade, but the film highlights the art of editing and re-editing.
Zona J (1998), Leonel Vieira
Félix Fontoura embodies a black boy from Chelas’ neighbourhood who dreams of living in Angola, the country where his parents were born. During the plot, the young man falls in love with Carla, but it becomes an impossible love as they both come from very different realities. With 246 thousand spectators in Portugal, the film was not only a box-office success, but also earned critical approval. A year after its release, Zona J won two Golden Globes.
April Captains (2000), Maria de Medeiros
The story of Salgueiro Maia and the Captains of April got to the big screen in the year 2000. Remains to this day one of the best-known Portuguese films, and took a total of 110 thousand people to the cinemas. Stefano Accorsi played the main role in a film that also features Maria de Medeiros and Joaquim de Almeida. April Captains takes place on the night of the 24th to 25th of April 1974 and portrays the revolution that put an end to the fascist regime in Portugal, known as Carnation Revolution.
The Crime of Father Amaro (2005), Carlos Coelho da Silva
It broke box office records at the time of the release, with an impressive total of 381 000 spectators. The adaptation of Eça de Queirós’ novel into cinema was directed by Carlos Coelho da Silva, and got the country talking about the story of the priest who falls in love with Amélia.
The film is a modern version of the Queirosian novel, set in a social neighbourhood in Lisbon and portraying problems such as marginalization and clerical corruption. Jorge Corrula and Soraia Chaves play the main characters.
Saint George (2016), Marco Martins
Directed by Marco Martins, with a screenplay by Ricardo Rodolfo, Saint George is a Luso-French film starring Portuguese actor Nuno Lopes.
The story portrays Jorge, an unemployed boxer who risks losing his son and his wife when she decides to return to Brazil. Desperate, Jorge gets a job in a debt collection company and starts intimidating those who have debts they cannot pay.
Fátima (2017), João Canijo
It is with images of awe, which does not necessarily mean beauty, that João Canijo sets up his story of the pilgrim odyssey of a group of women on their way to Fátima, only loosely connected by religion.
Despite its theme, Fátima is far from being a religious film. On the contrary, it is a portrait of determination capable of overcoming contradictions and obstacles on the path of the will.
The estate (2019), Tiago Guedes
Aside from the talented cast, the story of this film also makes an impression on every viewer.
The film tells the story of a Portugal that is changing politically, shown from the perspective of a wealthy, traditionally Portuguese family.
Snu (2019), Patrícia Sequeira
The controversial story of Ebba Merete Seidenfaden, a Danish publisher who came to Portugal during the dictatorial regime Estado Novo and became known as Snu Abecasssis is the subject of this film by Patrícia Sequeira, with Inês Castel-Branco in the main role. The founding of the publisher Publicações Dom Quixote, her ideas contrary to those of the Estado Novo regime and her relationship with the politic Francisco Sá Carneiro are highlighted in this film.
Remains of Wind (2022), Tiago Guedes
Remains of Wind is the latest film by Tiago Guedes, and its premiere took place in the past May at the Cannes Film Festival.
Starring Albano Jerónimo, Nuno Lopes, Isabel Abreu, João Pedro Vaz, Gonçalo Waddington and Leonor Vasconcelos, the film, which takes place in a village in the interior of the country, is based on a rite of passage that involves a group of teenagers, leaving deep marks on one of the boys.
Skilfully, with a very well-written script (with the help of Tiago Rodrigues), the film makes of the village’s secret – the hideous crime hidden in the past – an omen for the repetition of history.
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