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Caminhos do Cinema Portugues – XIXª Edição – Coimbra, 9 a 17 de Novembro de 2012, report by Piotr Maciantowicz, Poland

Caminhos do Cinema Portuguese is one of the biggest film festival in Portugal and it’s also a festival with big tradition. This year was the 19th edition of „Paths of Portugese Cinema” and I had a great honor to be a member of FICC Jury in Coimbra. Coimbra is medium city in central part of Portugal, the city is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and it is the University’s Centre of Film Studies which organizes the festival.
Competition showcases was very extensive. There were screenings of documentaries, shorts, animated and feature-length drama films. Beside the competition films, there was also a lot of side-events, such as screenings of Irish shorts and features in „World Cinema” section of festival. Another important side-event was the section of „Visual essays” which was a kind of retrospective of 2012 Portugal Shorts. There was also a week-long retrospective of films. This year the topic of retrospective was „The Eroticism in Portuguese Cinema”.
As every year festival also included a children’s programme, workshops and a conference of the state of the Portuguese industry and various social issues.
The FICC jury – one of five juries at the festival – give one prize – the Don Quijote Prize, but the jury had the option of giving another film a Special Mention.
The films in competition for the Don Quijote Prize included all of those with English subtitles, English language or no dialogue. In all, over 60 films were eligible and these covered all of the mentioned forms.
The quality of the feature films was „not the best in the world” , but the documentary and animated strands were particularly strong. A lot of animations was really good, both the visual and narrative aspect. Also, several documentaries delighted the jury. To sum up, but, that’s my subjective opinion, directors of films have lack of good ideas, perhaps this is due to the crisis, still something is missing in feature films and shorts.
The film we awarded the prize to was „A nossa forma de vida” („Our way of life”), a documentary written and directed by Pedro Filipe Marques. „On the Tail of Europe, eight floors above water, the marriage between the eternal proletariat Armando and housewife Maria Fernanda lasts for 60 years. As partner of the same crime, the sharing of their visions of the world transforms the daily life of an economically decaying country, in a brief life comedy”. This description says it all, this film is so true, when you watch the movie, you know that these are the characters of flesh and blood, with story, a great story of their lives. On the other hand, we see images of everyday life an elderly couple who on one hand are a little tired, on the other hand love life and their own environment. „In an igloo shaped world, these guardians of the past, leave the world of the mass media flood their control tower, drawing a portrait in the present of the Portuguese working class experience”. Summarising, the film is very contemporary, despite the age of the main characters, who are from „those who have survived their” accurately assess the current situation in Portugal. As far as the visual, the film is very intimate and quiet, long shots perfectly capture the specificity of the situation shown in the film.
We awarded a Special Mention to „Complexo – Universo Paralelo” („Complex - Parallel universes”), another documentary directed by Mario Petrocinio. The film is a story about „German Complex” a favela in Rio de Janeiro. We see life in the favelas, the eyes of many people: local social activist, hip hop artist, poor mothers, local dealers or the local police. Each of them is a German resident of the complex and presents his vision of favelas. Interestingly enough, people portrayed in the film does not lose optimism, we see genuine joy, in spite of the conditions in which they happen to live. In my opinion the strength of this film is to show the joy and optimism of residents of the complex. Show of faith and hope for a better tomorrow, a faith that, in people from Complexo probably never die. Another strong point of the film is its realization. Quick camera work, beautiful pictures, showing the colors of favela, building tension with the camera itself. In terms of music and sound, too, I’am delighted. Everything works in this film, in my opinion this one should have a worldwide distribution.
The entire team of the festival, with the director Ferreira at the head Vittor were very welcoming, friendly and hospitable throughout whole festival. The members of the other juries were really nice too, and included people from the film community, as well as journalists, administrators from other festivals and organisations. My co-jurors on the FICC Jury – Antonio Claudino de Jesus from Brazil and Jose Fernando Mateus from Portugal – were wonderful company and it was a pleasure and great honor working with them on the assessment of the films for the Don Quijote Prize. The case may look different, but fortunately our minds about the verdict, were almost identical, so there were no fights and arguments.
Unfortunately I could not stay on the closing ceremony and awards, was due to a strike (during the week) for a schedule of the festival has been moved by one day ahead. Grand Prix of Caminhos goes to „A nossa forma de vida” („Our way of life”) for other prizes check: http://www.caminhos.info/index.php/en/noticias/ultimas/344-ja-sao-conhecidos-os-vencedores-da-xix-edicao-do-festival-caminhos-do-cinema-portugues.
Summarising, participation in the festival was a wonderful experience, I met lots of great people with whom I'm going to keep in touch, both on the job and socially. Coimbra is a beautiful city which, for sure once I get back.
Piotr Maciantowicz