Pedro Costa, 1989
Pedro Costa, 1997
Celebrated at international film festivals and in such publications as<i>Artforum</i>,<i>Film Comment</i>, and<i>Cahiers du Cinéma</i>, Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa is virtually unknown to American audiences. He is mainly identified with his films depicting the lives of poor migrants in the slums of Lisbon: intimate portraits marked by precise editing and beautiful imagery. Although it may not be immediately apparent on first exposure to his rigorous filmmaking, Costa displays a deep affinity for classical filmmakers as disparate as John Ford, Robert Bresson, Charlie Chaplin, and Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet.
“To watch the films of Pedro Costa is to behold a cinema at once ineffably modern yet unassailably classical, and that is but one of their glorious paradoxes.”—Scott Foundas, LA Weekly
O Sangue (The Blood), Costa’s debut film, is the tale of two young brothers on the run from underworld figures and a vindictive uncle after the mysterious death of their father. Lush, stylized (shot in inky black-and-white), and at times romantic, the film is quite unlike Costa’s later work. (95 mins, 35mm)
Like the Dardenne brothers’ recent L’Enfant, Ossos (Bones) depicts the lives of impoverished young parents, here a distraught mother and a father who uses the infant as a prop for street begging. The first of a trilogy that explores life in the Lisbon shantytown of Las Fontainhas, the film is notable for the first appearance of Costa’s muse, Vanda Duarte. (94 mins, 35mm)
Thanks to Ricardo Matos Cabo for organizing this retrospective.