Pedro Costa is a leading Portuguese director. He uses tight 4:3 aspect ratio framing and chiaroscuro lighting to depict Portuguese lives that would otherwise go unnoticed. He usually focuses on immigrants, workers and the homeless in neglected areas such as Lisbon’s Fontainhas district. Instead of shooting portraits from a distance, as a more traditional documentary director might, Costa immerses himself in the lives of his characters. Through the medium of film, he is able to present their intense experiences of the world and their backgrounds. This results in a unique combination of fiction, film art and documentary.

The idea for Vitalina Varela – which screens at IFFR – arose on the set of Costa's Horse Money (2014). Vitalina from Cape Verde plays a minor role in that film about the life of Portuguese homeless person Ventura, who also appeared in Colossal Youth (2006). In close cooperation with Vitalina, Costa wrote the screenplay about how she came from Cape Verde to Portugal to discover the secrets of her deceased husband. Vitalina Varela, who played a version of herself in the film of the same title, won Best Actress for the role in Locarno where Vitalina Varela premiered, also winning Costa the festival's main award, the Golden Leopard. In his masterclass, Costa will talk to the audience about Vitalina Varela and his older works, diving into his rich oeuvre and revealing how he creates his films, stories and visual motifs.

Fri 24 Jan, 17:00, Hilton Le Jardin, €9/€6