The aesthetics of Pedro Costa, whose ‘Vitalina Varela’ will be screened at the Sundance Film Festival

Posted on January 23, 2020


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I finally watched a Pedro Costa on the big screen” is a real thing for some film lovers. This happened to me last year at the Dharamsala International Film Festival, where I saw the Portuguese auteur’s latest film, Vitalina Varela. (It was also screened at the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, and it will play at Sundance, this month.) If you’ve seen this filmmaker’s work – his first film, O Sangue, came out in 1989 – you’ll know about his rich imagery. He is a formalist of the first order. Still, I was not prepared for this film’s beauty on the big screen.

Walking out, I found myself chatting with Gitanjali Rao, whose Bombay Rose was also playing at the festival. We were so overwhelmed, we could barely speak in entire sentences at first. But finally, we got around to talking about the painterliness of the visuals — a kind of moody portraiture, really — and the ethics of these aesthetic choices, given the circumstances. After all, Costa’s films are about the impoverished immigrants from the slums of Fontainhas, a now-vanished neighbourhood on the outskirts of Lisbon.

Continued at the link above.

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