Main Programme

Programme IFFR 1994

In 'Main Programme'

The end of the world

The end of the world

This film is the last of a series based on the four elements (water, earth, fire and air). The earlier parts were made by Joao Monteiro, Joao Botelho and Joaquim Pinto and were screened last year in Rotterdam. Joao Mário Grilo was commissioned to portray the element earth. The series was set up and produced by Paolo Branco for Portuguese television and resul¡ted in striking feature films by Portugal's most talented film-makers.Grilo based his part on a true story. Protagonist is the old farmer Augusto Henriques, who has tilled a small piece of land on the slopes of a mountain in northern Portugal. Many of his neighbours have left the area, but he feels it to be his duty to stay tied to the soil. Fate strikes in the form of a common neighbourly quarrel in which he kills the woman next-door. The stubborn farmer stoically takes the consequences of his act and allows himself to be taken off to jail, where he lives fourteen years with just one desire: to return to his land.Augusto's actual land is realistically portrayed by Grilo, but the film obviously aims to tackle more general topics such as the disappearance of the age-old agrarian lifestyle and peop¡le's ties with their land.

Joao Mário Grilo
  • 64'

  • Portugal

IFFR 1994

O fio do horizonte (*)

O fio do horizonte (*)

Made in the style of a policier, O Fio do Horizonte has a magic-realistic story that is striking for this genre. The fifty½year-old pathologist Spino (Claude Brasseur) works in the Lisbon mortuary and is involved in many criminal cases. One day he thinks he recognises himself as young man in the corpse of a murdered man. His colleagues and his girlfriend Francesca (Andréa Ferréol) have serious doubts about his mental health but, hounded by his past, he investigates the background to the strangely-familiar corpse. It is the same age as Spino when he lost his parents and his beloved sister in a tragic accident; a traumatic event for Spino and one that he has apparently never come to terms with. Spino's investigation gets him more and more confused in a maze created by the past and he loses touch with reality. The past is like a horizon that disappears when you approach it - which also explains the title.Old Lisbon is the set for Spino's shadow world; the film is shot with atmosphere and deep shadows. The idiosyncratic music is also striking, written by Zbigniew Preisner, Kieslowski's regular composer.

Fernando Lopes
  • 85'

  • Portugal

IFFR 1994

Vale Abraao

Vale Abraao

A monumental and mysterious film indirectly based on the classic of classics: Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert. Stimulated by the enthusiasm that his cutter Valérie Loiseleux displayed while editing his penultimate film for the literary life of Emma Bovary, De Oliveira decided to try to make his own Bovary. He regarded a direct approach to the original as impossible for a Portuguese film-maker; the French cultural world would never tolerate a foreigner tackling their Bovary. (Anyway, Claude Chabrol's Bovary was just in production.)De Oliveira chose for a round-about route. He asked the writer Augustina Bessa-Luis to write him a 'Portuguese Bovary'. Bessa-Luis situated her version in the northern wine district Douro and gave it the name of the location as a title. The biblical reference (to Abraham) appealed greatly to De Olivei¡ra and he was also charmed by the strange people that Bessa-Luis introduced in her novel and whom she had based on obser¡ving people in Douro.In writing his screenplay, De Oliveira followed Bessa-Luis' book, but he already knew which actors he wanted to use for which characters. In this sense, his Emma (called Ema by De Oliveira) is the actress Leonor Silveira to a tee. The film was shot entirely on location in the area that inspired Bessa-Luis to her variation on universal provincialism.

Manoel de Oliveira
  • 187'

  • Portugal

IFFR 1994