Good news from Locarno for Portuguese cinema: “Fogo do Vento”, by Marta Mateus, competes for the Golden Leopard

“Fogo do Vento†, Marta Mateus’ first feature film, will compete for Locarno’s Golden Leopard next August, the artistic director of the Swiss festival, Giona A. Nazzaro, announced this morning. The director’s new film follows the multi-award-winning short “Farpões Baldiosâ€, from 2017, and like it was shot in the Alentejo region of Estremoz, following some of the protagonists of the previous work. “A political film that recalls the memory of previous generations and takes us from resistance to the Salazar dictatorship to the present time, in a reflection on war and peace, highlighting the importance of his speech in the current global context†, reads Portugal Film’s statement of intentions.

“Fire of the Wind”, by Marta Mateus

“Farpões Baldios†(title written without a comma, objective and mysterious at the same time) was a journey to an immemorial past of peasant life and an approach to the political upheavals of the post-25th of April in Alentejo. “As if yesterday had cursed today, without us being able to distinguish them,†it was written in these pages. In the film’s release now sent to the press, Marta Mateus proposed a brief sentence that perhaps follows the same line: “Sometimes we like to imagine that cinema has the power of sorcery.â€

“Fogo do Vento†was produced by Clarão Companhia, which the director founded with Pedro Costa, in collaboration with co-producers Fabrice Aragno, from Casa Azul Films (Switzerland) and Richard Copans, from Les Films d’Ici (France).

Marta Mateus will have as her competition companions some notables from contemporary cinema: the South Korean Hong Sangsoo (“By The Stream†), the Chinese Wang Bing (“Youth (Hard Times)†, which gives following Bing’s previous work premiered at the Cannes 2023 competition), the British Ben Rivers (“Bogancloch†), the German Christoph Hochhäusler (who shot a police officer in French called “La mort viendra†) or the French Virgil Vernier (“Cent mille milliards†).

“Hanami”, by Denise Fernandes, competes in Cineastas do Presente

In Locarno’s parallel competition, Cineastas do Presente, another Portuguese feature film debut appears: “Hanamiâ€, by Portuguese-Cape Verdean Denise Fernandes. The film was written by the filmmaker and Telmo Churro and shot on Fogo Island. Denise Fernandes was born in Lisbon in 1990, daughter of Cape Verdean parents, and was raised in Ticino. His short films “Una notte†(2011) and “Nha Mila†(2020) premiered in Locarno. The Portuguese part of the co-production of “Hanami†(Switzerland/Portugal/Cape Verde) involves O Som e a Fúria.

“The Lady with the Torch†, in an allusion to the unforgettable Columbia Pictures logo, is the retrospective that Locarno dedicates this year to the historic studio from the golden age of Hollywood. Curated by Iranian programmer and filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht, co-director of the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, this Locarno cycle selected 43 titles (some recently restored) from the late 1920s to the late 1950s, works by John Ford, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann, Robert Rossen, Nicholas Ray, Frank Borzage, Frank Capra, George Cukor, Raoul Walsh, Phil Karlson, Budd Boetticher, among others.

This year’s Leopard of Honor will be awarded to New Zealander Jane Campion, while Indian actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan, one of his country’s biggest film stars, will be honored with a Leopard for his career. The French Mélanie Laurent and Guillaume Canet, the producer Stacey Sher, the French actress Irène Jacob, the American sound designer Ben Burtt and the Swiss animator Claude Barras will also be honored.

Piazza Grande during the Locarno Festival

Massimo Piccoli

Out of competition there is another Portuguese world premiere, “Cartas Telepáticas†, the film that Edgar Pêra shot using artificial intelligence based on an imaginary correspondence that crosses texts by Fernando Pessoa and Howard Philips Lovecraft – two influences bigger for the filmmaker. Pêra has been working on the project for two years (production by Bando à Parte by Rodrigo Areias) and testing AI tools for artistic purposes, in “dance with the algorithm†(the expression is by Edgar Pêra).

In the Author Shorts section there are new works by Denis Côté and the French duo Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vignel, with no registration of Portuguese films in the Leopards of Tomorrow competition. However, the Portuguese Carlos Pereira is part of this competition with a new work by German production entitled “Icebergs†(in the same circumstances as “Slimane†, which also premiered in Locarno in 2023).


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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