“Portuguese cinema is complex. It constantly deconstructs the narrative...” says Pedro, a character in one of short films, ‘Lei da Gravidade’ (Law of Gravity), showcased on the first day of NY Portuguese Short Film Festival at Alliance Francaise de Chandigarh, on Tuesday.
Pedro couldn’t be more apt. As he stands on the ground floor of a house with his friend Ze, the two aspiring film-makers start a conversation about film-making. What’s interesting, you would ask? Ze sends a text to his ‘Lord, his shepherd’ telling him that “all you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl”.
Four other equally interesting short films were screened at the festival which is an initiative by the India Portugal Friendship Association. The festival is also travelling to Delhi, Chennai, Goa and Kolkata. In its sixth edition now, the festival was showcased in the city for the first time. Five more short films will be screened on May 10. “These films have been screened at the New York Film Festival. And we’re bringing the same series to India. We collaborated with Alliance Francaise because our main aim is to bring countries together through art and culture. It is also Europe Day today. Films are a good way to foster that,” said Jasbir Nischal, secretary, India Portugal Friendship Association.
The festival was inaugurated by ambassador of Portugal to India Joan da Canara, who said the festival was aimed at bringing cultures together and promoting young talent. “These films are mostly experimental and made by young film-makers. We wanted to bring a bit of our country to India. Culture is a good way to moderate politicians, a strong force to spread tolerance and to bring about an amalgamation of differences,” he said.
Two of the five films, ‘Pronto era assim’ (That’s How It Was) and ‘Feral’, were animated shorts. The first was about five inanimate objects talking about how their lives were before they ended up in a junk store, and the other was about a child who grew up in a forest. “The movies were interesting, especially the animated ones. Not for a moment did we want to get up and leave. A short film gives you limited time to tell a story. But all the five films showcased here were varied in their subject matter and the stories were out of the box which kept us hooked,” said Drishti and Ved, a doctor-engineer couple.
A short film titled ‘Deus Providenciara’ (God Will Provide), set in 1984, dealt with the battle between the church and abortion-friendly laws that were being propagated by the Communist Party in Portugal at the time. Maria, a God-fearing woman lives alone, listens to the radio and prays daily before going to bed. She goes to church and listens to the priest’s sermon about how Abraham is stopped by God when he is about to sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his devotion. However, she is faced by a dilemma when the doctor tells her she is pregnant. The film ends with a flashback, showing Maria being raped by an intruder.
But not all the films were steeped in complexities. ‘Tenho um rio’ (My River), a slice of life short, showed a couple bogged down by the daily routines of life. The husband, Jorge, is constantly reminded of how he felt when he jumped into the river on a trip with his friends. This prompts him to coax his wife, Daniela, to go on a camping trip on bicycles. The two return refreshed, walking back into their daily routines with a smile on their faces.