A criança

  • 109'
  • Portugal
  • 2022

You won’t instantly notice the great burden resting on Bela’s shoulders at the well-to-do family’s picnic. This free adaptation of Kleist’s story Der Findling has shifted location to Portugal in the mid-16th century. The seemingly bold young man Bela is from a poor neighbourhood in Lisbon. He was adopted by the family to replace the merchant’s real son, who never returned from a journey to Africa. The world is Bela’s oyster. A fiancée has been chosen for him, he has a knack for trade, so why does he secretly meet with Rosa, a servant stolen from Morocco, who works at the local monastery? Is it love? A desire for freedom? And what are Rosa's motives?

The drama unfolds calmly, yet inexorably. This family fresco is marbled with secret affairs, hidden tragedies, and charged relationships. The calm inevitability is reflected in the production’s style with its carefully staged tableaux and intimate close-ups. Intimate, playful moments and poetic effusions cannot dispel the sense that everything is about to fall apart. Death is always close. Bela sees someone else in the mirror.

The location, in a paradisiacal landscape, just outside Lisbon, reinforces its universal nature. Simultaneously, it is not hard to view this as a mirror for a rich and powerful country sliding into stagnation and dissolution. Subtle references to colonialism and the inquisition provide this understated tragedy with additional depth.

Marguerite de Hillerin, Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois
Country of production
Festival Edition
P&I Selection 2022
International title
The Child
Portuguese, French
Paulo Branco
Production Companies
Leopardo Filmes, Alfama Films
Alfama Films
Marguerite de Hillerin, Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois
Mário Barroso
Paulo Milhomens
Production Design
Zé Branco
Sound Design
Pedro Góis, Elsa Ferreira
Grégory Gadebois, João Arrais, Maria João Pinho, Loïc Corbery, Inês Pires Tavares, Alba Baptista, Albano Jerónimo