year by year
Programme ... ❦
Transcription of the debates ... ❦
Film stills ... ❦
Auxiliary texts ... ❦
Who made it ... ❦
Download catalogue ... ❦
About the 2006 edition
A point of view about the world is a point of view about cinema. If one expects any film to incorporate a point of view about the world, today one should also note the importance of stressing almost the inverse: in the midst of the present audiovisual saturation, the productive use of the means of the cinema claims for an even stronger engagement, exigency and clarity concerning the place of cinema in the modern world. As much as a point of view about the world, the production boom claims for a point of view about cinema as a consequent part of our vision of the world.
The 2006 seminar includes some examples of this, films and film makers that define the landscape, and, consequently, may guide us along a journey through some key trends of contemporary cinema. Starting with films where each shot reveals a strong construction method, we will then rather concentrate on the recent methodologies of direct cinema.
Regarding the latter, we will propose a confrontation between different filming strategies, including an analytic approach of various parameters: treatment of space, treatment of time, handling of the camera, sound, editing.
The 2006 edition shall run according to a new structure of debates, in three distinct levels: dialogues on specific films; thematic presentation on formal strategies; collective debate.
Transcription of the debates
Third debate, direct cinema put into question
15th JUNE, THURSDAY
José Manuel Costa (JMC)
Nuno Lisboa (NL)
Catarina Alves Costa (CAC)
Catarina Mourão (CM)
Susana Nobre (SN)
Leonor Areal (LA)
Pedro Sena Nunes (PSN)
JOSÉ MANUEL COSTA: This morning we’ll be doing a rehearsal, an experiment from which we will try to draw ideas for future hypothetical versions. The overall theme is “direct cinema put into question” and our goal is simple: using some excerpts from a few authors that belong to generations that are quite close to one another (the generation that was responsible for the renewal of documentary film in Portugal from the nineties onwards, and that, from my point of view, captured for the first time the legacy of what had been the tradition of direct cinema), we are going to talk to these authors about the filming devices that they chose, or set up. Of course, in speaking of direct cinema, by the time their careers started, tradition had evolved a great deal, through the technological developments in cameras and sound and, obviously, through the exchange of ideas. The excerpts were chosen by me and Nuno Lisboa, but this isn’t an anthology of our personal taste, nor of what we consider to be the “best moments”. It only includes excerpts that we think are interesting as to provide guidelines for thought. We’ll lay out those guidelines, which will then be commented on by each one of the authors, who in turn may, if they wish to, point out other possible readings.
We will start off with an excerpt from an important film in the history of this generation, which is Senhora Aparecida [Our Lady Aparecida] by Catarina Alves Costa, made in 1994 at Lugar da Aparecida. The film is about a problem, a dispute and its outcome, in a traditional celebration that takes place on the 15th of August. At this celebration, it is a century-long tradition for penitents to pay their promises by joining a procession in which they’re carried inside coffins. The film addresses the controversial issue of whether this ritual should be performed or not, and that controversy takes place between the people and the village priest. Why did we choose to start the debate with this excerpt? Firstly because it concerns the choice of the subject matter, and the question of whether it is still important, in the era of direct cinema, to address situations whose outcome is openended and in which one can sense that, during the shooting itself, things can take a totally unpredictable course. Meaning that the author puts himself in an unstable situation, which changes perceptibly during the shooting period, and this transformation works as a foundation for the very structure of the film. This is the starting point. Let’s go on to the excerpt.
[Screening of an excerpt from Senhora Aparecida.]
JMC: Catarina, does it make sense to exhibit this excerpt in order to discuss the matter I mentioned?
CATARINA ALVES COSTA: The fact that we are in a situation in which we cannot control reality at all? Yes, absolutely. What you have just seen happened on the last day of shooting. For one month we followed a few characters that were thinking of going ahead with their promises involving coffins. We didn’t know if people were going to be able to actually perform this coffin procession, because the priest forbade it and managed to convince everyone not to go. Everyone said they wouldn’t, and as a result we were stuck; the film was about this story, and if this didn’t happen... Of course it could end differently but, deep down, I knew that... I put a lot into this ending. During the time I was there, we used only one camera, but on this last day (during which everything would happen within one hour) I suddenly realized I had to have three cameras. I had to have a camera on the baby. The baby’s grandmother was the only person who kept telling me: “no matter what happens, my granddaughter is going in the coffin on the day of the celebration” (for these people, promises are a contract with God that cannot be broken). Then I needed a camera on the priest, because he was trying to stop people from going until the very last minute – it’s the scene we saw here. And then I needed another camera on Massas. He’s the man who rents out the coffins. He has them stored and, at the crucial moment, he goes and fetches them. Actually, we had to really know what was going on. The whole thing was filled with secrecy; people don’t say they are going to pay the promises, so it was extremely hard to understand what was going through their minds and what they would do on that day. And on the very day, to be in the right place, at the right time with... it was really exciting. It was really an amazing day.
JMC: I think that deep down, and in your other films too, you look for situations in which this idea of an unpredictable ending is present...
CAC: Yes, absolutely. One of the things that I find attractive about making documentaries is exactly the way reality takes over and surprises us, and the idea of having to be in on things, in order to anticipate. On the other hand, I also find this very interesting in anthropological terms. I think they are extremely revealing situations. In a tense situation such as this, people say things and act in ways they haven’t during the many years they participated in the coffin procession. In previous years people calmly arrived, got into their little coffins, the drums led the way and they followed the procession. Nobody talked about anything, about God, promises, the idea of sacrifice, the idea of tradition. All these ideas come up because there is tension. It’s very interesting because in this case we’re almost reaching an underground level, which is implicit in the way people talk. This tradition comes from the Middle Ages and spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula – for some reason it stayed in Lousada, an area that is fairly industrial, and this was the last year this ritual was performed. Traditions obviously come to an end, but we never know how these processes come about, we don’t have access to them because they are so very local. This priest has incredible power, he put an end to this and it never happened again. It was a privilege to be able to witness something that is connected to the transformation of Portuguese culture, which basically consisted of this kind of tradition that the Church helped create and later abolished. In this film I was very interested in understanding how these processes work. How a priest can convince people that, despite their promise, if they don’t ride in the coffin on the day of the celebration that won’t be a problem because he is the one who will go straight to hell. He actually says this in the film. There is a whole logic that is verbalized and that normally stays underground, we never talk about it and... it was mostly that which drove me to make this film. And it was also a matter of luck! I was very lucky.
JMC: Concerning the next two excerpts, we thought they might be a good way of addressing the question of time in cinema. During a fair portion of its history, direct cinema has been a field for exploring time, mostly because of its emphasis on continuity, on maintaining a relation to real time, on the sequence shot. Nowadays, no matter the duration of the shot as such, I think we still can’t separate this method, or what it has become, from the experience of time and the use of cinema as a form of questioning the mystery of time.
The first excerpt is still by Catarina Alves Costa, and it’s from her first film, Regresso à Terra [Back to the Homeland]. A film made during a course in Serra d’Arga (where we will later return with another excerpt), in 1992. What we are going to see are images from the beginning of the film, before the opening credits. It’s a film about a village in Serra d’Arga, about the relationship between generations, the passing of time, emigration, and it begins with a very simple situation, two women and the “story of the wolf”. And straight afterwards, Catarina introduces a short series of shots where I find that something different comes in, an awkwardness, in comparison to what we normally come across in these contexts. One of the women lies down and fall asleep, the other I suppose is also sleeping, in another position, and suddenly there is a halt, or a suspension, that becomes the centre of attention. Instead of cutting, Catarina films exactly that halt, the non-action, as if the content of the shot became time itself, apart from giving us an image of them that, although ordinary, is outside the mainstream.
The second excerpt is of a very different nature, and it’s from a film that I consider was crucial for this generation and for the transformation of documentaries in Portugal, which is A Dama de Chandor [The Lady of Chandor], by Catarina Mourão, 1998. Filmed in Goa, and focusing on Aida who, despite her eighty years of age, looks after an old mansion almost on her own. The film provides a glimpse of her everyday life and addresses all the issues that overlap on that region today. The scene in question is the one where Aida welcomes a film crew, who want to see the house so they can decide if they will rent it or not for a shooting – we’ll talk about that afterwards.
[Screening of excerpts from Regresso à Terra and A Dama de Chandor.]
JMC: Let’s begin with Catarina. In this opening, in this suspension, I see a sort of invitation to pass on to another dimension...
CAC: This film is set in a very small village, in the middle of the mountains, where people live mostly off their herds. The cattle belong to everyone and people take turns to look after it, that is, each week two women take the cattle up the mountain. I went there by myself to film all this. I was using an HI8 camera. I would go with the women for the whole day, with the goats and the sheep, on the mountain, and every time it was almost the same thing. We’d walk a lot and then stop to eat and sleep. This scene reminded me of a mythical time. The story, which wasn’t audible here because of their accent and the bad sound quality, tells that they were sleeping and suddenly a wolf appeared and attacked a sheep. For me, this scene relates to a whole dimension which is not that of life in the village, but rather... I would prefer not to call it wild, but maybe a more natural dimension, in which people have next to nothing because they’re in the middle of the hills with the sheep. I started the film with them sleeping because I think it’s somehow the origin of all this, it’s a scene that makes me think about that. It sets the time, which is one of expectance. The whole film is about the old people waiting. They spend their lives waiting for the month of August, which is when the young people arrive, celebrations take place and loads of things happen. I wanted to convey that right at the beginning, the physical sensation of someone who goes to a place like this to film, a feeling that time has stopped; even the way one uses the camera changes a lot, because we have to adapt ourselves to that time. I think that is what can also be felt in the film A Dama de Chandor. It’s a time that the cinematic time has to follow, and that can’t be done using any strategy that is outside reality, it’s there. She is in fact nodding, sleeping in a sitting position, and at the same trying to look after the sheep, but sleepiness is winning and... This dimension of waking and falling asleep that she is in, I think it’s very interesting cinematically.
JMC: Concerning A Dama de Chandor, this is a scene where the main character, Aida, is confronted with outsiders, negotiates with them and then says goodbye. We chose this excerpt because of the way it ends and because of what happens in the split second before the end: the door closes, the visitors are left outside, and the camera is by her side, in her space and, certainly due to the bond that she has established with Catarina Mourão’s crew, she lets out a small gesture in front of the camera, which unloads the previous tension. After showing great authority when negotiating with the visitors, she wavers and shows that all that self-control was much less natural and much more affected than what she had made us believe. As a whole, the scene presents an idea and then gives us its opposite, finishing off with the exact opposite of what it initially transmitted – and that is what interests us here. Again, because you chose to keep shooting, we moved on to another level of understanding of the character and, therefore, on to another level of ambiguity, which has to do with depth. What matters here is how the scene turns back on itself...
CATARINA MOURÃO: It’s funny that you chose this scene. The film was made with a small crew (there were three of us), and normally I wouldn’t do camera or sound, but I did shoot this scene. At a certain point I felt that it was important for me to be alone with her and Armanda, that is, in a women’s universe if you will. I was quite interested in her daily routine in the bedroom (the brushing of her hair and such). I think what is achieved in this scene is maybe that sign, in the end, of there being a closeness, which was previously hinted at (there is a moment when she is passing from one room to another, she looks at the camera and waves her hand as if saying “I’ll put up with this...”). Sometimes I wonder if it would have been the same if it weren’t me behind the camera. It is true that she established a connection with the crew, because there were only a few of us, but I think in this case she is relating to me, it was obviously me behind the camera.
On the other hand, this scene is quite emblematic, because the reason I wanted to make this film was precisely the ambiguity of her character which, on the surface, is a strong, terse, almost cold woman (come to think of it, the film has another character who describes her, saying she is prim and proper, never too effusive nor inappropriate, she’s a lady), and her being a lady also conveys frailty; and that’s what attracted me, that and the way this small, eighty something year old lady runs this household. I think this scene partly summarizes Aida’s duplicity. The house was frequently visited by tourists, and she did guided tours, but that situation was new to her because they weren’t tourists, they were people who wanted to rent the house to make a Bollywood film, and there was a power issue. And the fact that I had already filmed various guided tours, that there was a standard route through the house and she had a way of showing the house that was always more or less the same, that was important... I could anticipate that route a little. On the other hand, the fact that I felt she was in a tense situation made me not stop the camera as soon as she closed the door. I felt this was our moment, a kind of release.
JMC: That’s exactly the point. Regardless of the cuts in shooting or editing up to that point, there is a sense of continuity, there is a will to deliver something, not for its “meaning” or effect, but for its development.
CM: It’s not just that. I could have the development and the release in a completely different situation, but I mean, it just happened. I was also lucky; it’s a matter of intuition, of what happens in the moment and the energy between the person being filmed and the person filming. I thought it was really important that, within the same scene, almost within the same space, there be that deconstruction; there is therefore a performance followed by its deconstruction. It’s obvious it could have been done differently, but to me, what I like, what’s strong about this, is this coherence, this oneness.
NUNO LISBOA: We will now continue with the issue of space, which is particularly present in Susana Nobre’s film, O que Pode um Rosto [Daycare Hospital], from 2003. I’d say it’s almost a film where time becomes space, at the Portuguese Institute of Oncology (IPO), where patients with cancer go through the various therapeutic phases: first, the diagnosis of the disease; afterwards, the various phases of treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and where they sometimes later return for routine checkups. In this film nothing particularly unexpected happens. One can say that the merit and perhaps also the reason for some incomprehension towards a few aspects of the film is precisely the normality with which it faces the processes of transformation and aberration that constitute the disease itself. In the sequence we will be watching (which is really the editing of three sequences, although they appear in this order in the film): firstly we see the waiting room, with an ailing mother accompanied by her son; then, two appointments at different phases of the treatment: in the first one the doctor explains to a patient what will happen next (one can see that she has gone through a lot, it’s noticeable on her body, on her face – the face works almost as a screen in this film); in the second appointment it’s mostly the patient who takes the active role, describing what he’s going through, two years after finishing the treatment. Next we’ll discuss issues related to Susana Nobre’s filming devices: where the camera is placed, framing, type of shots, mainly in this situation of doctor-patient dialogue.
[Screening of an excerpt from O que Pode um Rosto.]
NL: I would start by asking: is there a reason for the length of the shots, for focusing on the patient and for the duration of the shot.
SUSANA NOBRE: The length of the shots was very much determined by the doctor’s speech, his description, which is a vision of the future, of what is to come, or what has passed (in the case of the last appointment). These doctor-patient scenes are the essential element of this film. I think eighty percent of the film is made up of doctor’s appointments, conversations, in which the medical speech is repeated, and the same things are heard over and over again. I think it’s also through that repetition that we are introduced to this reality. The film has a very simple structure that corresponds to a very likely path when inside an institution like this: first appointment, diagnosis, description of what will happen; afterwards, I chose to go straight to surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and, finally, these routine checkups.
NL: How is the viewer positioned within this device? Where do you put the camera and what relation does that establish with the viewer?
SN: I don’t think the audience is put in the place of the patient, we’re looking in from the outside; we’re not exactly trying to think what it’s like to be a patient, but we’re trying to participate in an action, in a new situation. That’s exactly what determined the camera to be placed there.
NL: It seems as if we understand the patients’ own incomprehension towards what is happening to them; because of that it might be important to understand if you follow the characters; how does that happen throughout the film?
SN: I was trying to explain the structure of the film just a moment ago... It works in an anticipating logic, meaning that the placement of the camera was, with a few exceptions, always defined beforehand. We were also very familiar with the institution and the way it operates. When the patient entered the doctor’s consulting room we were already inside, that was what normally happened. Although the film somehow has mosaic-like structure, there are people we see once at the beginning of the film and then never again; but there are also situations in which a person will reappear in the end. There are these relationships, these more distant connections, and then there are small sequences in which we see the same person for two or three scenes in a row. There are different types of continuity.
JMC: Normally, your system in this film is to have a very stable camera. The people who are filmed talk to someone who is very close to the camera, but that’s never you, nor someone from your crew. It’s an interchange in which you never intervene. That’s a different choice from other authors, that choose to ask questions, or engage in dialogue with those being filmed. What we intend with this session is to emphasize the different devices of the relationship between the person filming and the person being filmed, and the different places the audience is taken – in each case – and we’ll be coming back to that next. But would you like to talk about your own choice?
SN: I was trying to talk about that before, although it’s hard for me to phrase it. I never felt the need for a participation that would be... self-referential in a way, with someone talking about their own experience. I think that happens anyway within the therapeutic process, it happens by itself.
JMC: And do you think that’s specific to this situation or do you feel that it’s your own way of filming?
SN: I think that, generally, I’ll tend to go that way.
JMC: In other words, you believe you can pass on what you want to say without having to ask people questions?
SN: In these processes, yes. I think they trigger things and cause revelations to happen.
NL: That seems to relate to the film’s title, O que Pode um Rosto: the ability to accept the doctor’s speech and the capacity, almost nudity, of the face itself to communicate what is happening inside the person, and the place is precisely that of a dialogue that’s already there to begin with and which you follow. Continuing with this problem of space and the filming device in relation to an ongoing process, we will move on to a film by Leonor Areal, Doutor Estranho Amor [Doctor Strange Love], from 2005, in which the director follows the process of training a team, in a high school, around the prevention of risk behaviour regarding AIDS. We will watch two sequences that are set apart in the film. In the first one, we come out from one of the many educational games developed with the students, a game involving social role playing, thinking about the effects that the tutor’s words will have in behavioural terms. After that, we’ll pass on to one of the last sequences of the film, where the whole training process is evaluated. I think we should pay attention here to Leonor Areal’s method and how she sets up her equipment in the classroom, considering the way the different people get to speak in that context. So we have two different situations, where we can recognize the same method.
LEONOR AREAL: I’d just like to say that the film and the training lasted for ten weeks, it didn’t happen all at once. It was a long process.
[Screening of excerpts from Doutor Estranho Amor.]
NL: Would you like to talk a bit about the synchronous sound, about your decisions on framing?
LA: I shot this by myself with one camera and a directional microphone on top of it. So everything that has to do with my position in the space and the framing is quite determined by the sound I can obtain with the directional microphone, meaning I always have to position myself in front of the sound I want to capture, either at a great distance, or right on top of the person close by. Also, being in a classroom with a reasonably large group is a very unstable situation because they’re always doing different things, entering and leaving the frame – and it’s sometimes hard to know where they’re headed. Despite that, of course I can predict what is going to happen (something that was impossible in other experiences I had involving seven to nine year old children). I knew the objective of the training, although I didn’t know what was going to happen – I didn’t know what games were going to be played, what conversations they were going to have, how they organized their time in an hour and a half session. So I adapted; but if I got lost in what was happening I’d go back to what I’d thought out before filming: as there is always interaction in a classroom, I mainly composed shots that include three people, because three people, even if they’re just listening, sitting quietly, are always interacting; or else, in case I feel interested in the words and actions between the two groups, I would position myself on the line of interaction between one and the other. That’s why the majority of the shots have a foreground and a background. For example, when the teacher who was taking notes is talking, it’s a boring part of the film and of the situation, no one wanted to listen to her. And I knew she would be like that, so I anticipated that and filmed her and captured her sound; but I was also interested in the three or four characters sitting across from her, who are reacting all the time, because they’re restless, because they’re children.
NL: The calling to one another always takes place within the same shot: some people talk, others listen, in a continuous interaction. How do you deal with that, in the sense of foreseeing how the film shall be edited?
LA: In this situation things are constantly happening and there isn’t much time to loose. I can’t stop and think “now I’m going to do...”, no. But the unpredictable is something that challenges me and totally hooks me, so when I’m shooting I’m editing at the same time, I’m constructing a film.
Besides trying to anticipate based on what I know of people’s behaviour and the attention I pay them, I try to shoot as if I were already living the film. I shoot a sequence and then, suddenly, if those people have said enough and that scene interests me, I feel that, as if I were inside the film, I should jump on to something else. So, I go on to whoever is in front, but not as if I were doing a match cut, but rather a reverse angle shot. That action will have a response, or a follow-up, and that’s how I shoot for an hour and a half non-stop. Then, while editing, I pick out a fragment. But the fragment is already filmed taking into account the logic of the editing, be it a sequence shot or a response.
NL: The last sequence is one of the particularly interesting moments of people addressing one another within the same shot: the boy resists being addressed, resists speaking, but makes up for it by his gesture, laying his head on the tutor’s shoulder.
JMC: I think that in a way this is an echo of what we were saying earlier. That is, there is a moment when the boy is addressed and puts himself out of the game, he doesn’t join in, he refuses to, but you continue shooting, and later on you show him completely engaged, but in another way. In reality, his gesture contradicts what he said in words. Here the continuity issue resurfaces, the urge to follow the scene through, each and every time, letting things unfold and capturing the contradictions.
LA: Yes, actually this sequence is a little condensed but it’s very real, because the boy laid his head on the girl’s shoulder during the teacher’s very lengthy speech, which was cut here and there. He was genuinely tired and, therefore, made that gesture of weakness. Of course I couldn’t let that pass. I had also put myself in that situation because those two kids were the ones that stuck out the most during those weeks, and they had become my main characters. The one who doesn’t want to speak is the class leader and the other is the one who never shuts up, something had to happen there.
JMC: In reality, one of the goals of this session, at this stage, is to emphasize the difference between methods – Susana and Leonor’s films, although they have extremely varied camera logics and reactions to what’s happening, both have a common conviction, that it’s not necessary to engage in conversation with the people being filmed; and then there are methods in which that does happen.
Let’s go on to an excerpt by Pedro Sena Nunes, taken from a film that will be fully shown here today, Elogio ao 1/2 [Praise to 1/2]. The aim here is to talk about a community, the Indians from Meia Praia, mostly based on the way they see themselves. Although the film alternates scenes with different devices, there is an essential purpose which is to make the community talk about itself. The shot in question comes right at the beginning of the film, and the device is set for that purpose: just like in Susana’s film, the camera is in a fixed position, in front of the character who’s talking; however, what’s captured isn’t a dialogue that would happen regardless of the film, but a dialogue triggered for and by the film. And I suppose it was started by the author, who I reckon is beside the camera. I think there is a certain degree of irony in the way you shoot this, Pedro, how the light is set or how the camera captures the light, but you yourself can talk about that. However, we would like you to discuss this matter, of addressing people directly. Let’s watch the excerpt and then we we’ll talk about it.
[Screening of an excerpt of Elogio ao 1/2.]
PEDRO SENA NUNES: It’s quite difficult for me to talk about devices, because each one of my projects uses a different device; the technology, the technique and the crew are different and that allows me to prepare specifically for each one. I don’t believe – or at least I haven’t been able to experience that – that people can tell me everything they have to say. I love listening to people and I often find myself more fascinated with the experience I have with them than with the result that is recorded. Maybe that has to do with not being able to find a safe device that would allow me to record the most intense or intimate conversations. I often find a way in the end, which is to reproduce some of the things I enjoyed hearing most. So I’ll try and find those again, although often I find different things too. There isn’t a very pragmatic logic in this idea of the process.
Here, as it was the first time I was recording with high-definition, having a fixed camera, for example, really interested me. This has to do with the discovery of 16:9, a format that is more panoramic, which made me and the cameraman concentrate differently than if we were using a squarer format. This forced us to create a comfortable, listening, tripod situation, allowing for each moment in the neighbourhood, with each individual character, to be of an almost specific and studied conviviality. This is the overall sketch. Is there irony in that and specifically with this character? I think so, it does exist – in the afternoon, when you see the documentary, I think you’ll be able to understand that better. There is irony due to the relationship I established with this gentleman, Fernando, and that makes us realize that the device can be pushed further. The dialogue is taken further, all of it is. And, in some moments, I’m not sure the outcome corresponds exactly to what I experienced with these people. I’m sure of one thing though, most of the time my eyes need to be free. I know I’m extremely careful and rigorous with the image and the sound and, therefore, there are very few projects (this because of what was said this morning) in which I compromised, either because it was a masculine universe or a feminine one. Whatever the situation, I need to be with people, I need to look at them and I also need to hear them with my eyes.
JMC: Is that you beside the camera, is that you asking the first question?
JMC: And then you don’t intervene anymore, or do you, and then take it out in editing?
PSN: Sometimes I end up intervening, if I start to feel it’s diverting too much from the intended subject. Also because I choose to delimit, in terms of the type of shots, very specific things for each question. And of course there is the anticipation of more intuitive moments, and there is a coded understanding between my crew and me, and what we are looking for.
JMC: But when one shoots a dialogue made especially for the film, when it’s the film that creates it, the place of the viewer is different from other cases, say the doctor-patient relationship mechanism... One of the things we could say is, for example, that even in that other “closed” mechanism, in which the author doesn’t intervene directly, a flow of words that generates a kind of identification logic can be created, a sort of left over from the classic fiction system, or some sort of game played with it... What I’m asking you is, do you agree that choices on this level have other consequences on many other aspects...
PSN: Yes, of course, no doubt about it. But there are other projects that I did in which the device doesn’t work that way and, in fact, the result is completely different concerning that relationship with the viewer. I think the main point is not only my position in that space, but also the specific exchange of glances between the subject and me. It’s not a careless glance; I try to establish a relationship with the screen, to make that glance come through, by positioning myself in a strategic place. That is indeed a scheme I’ve maintained.
JMC: He’s not talking to the camera or to an anonymous space, he’s talking to you. Do you feel that concentration is important, is that it?
PSN: Absolutely. There have been moments when I have had to strategically put the sound director with his back to the scene in order to make sure the gaze was directed only at me. If the person has another three people around him, he’ll talk to the three people, not to just one of them. There are moments in which, due the depth of the relationship, he would talk only to me; but there are other situations in which the person will easily look elsewhere, so I prefer to stop and rethink everyone’s positioning.
JMC: Well, let’s close this session with a last excerpt from Pedro Sena Nunes, not to talk about it straight away, but just to watch it. It is taken from a earlier film entitled Entraste no Jogo, Tens de Jogar [You Entered Into the Game, You Have to Play], made in 1997 in Serra D’Arga – that is, in the same area of Minho where Catarina Alves Costa filmed Regresso à Terra. On the whole, the film includes different modes. But it ends with a scene that we thought would be very beautiful to close this session – the scene where Pedro wanders away from the village – it follows a logic that I would say has little to do with the tradition of direct cinema, and where there is an echo of broader issues, older themes related to both documentaries and cinema. It’s a very constructed scene, which conveys the idea of distance, but also of embracing a space and time that grow bigger and bigger, and is in fact conducted by sound. We say goodbye to you with this excerpt.
[Screening of the excerpt of Entraste no Jogo, Tens de Jogar.]