Different gazes on Portugal
Two very different short films from a Locarno favorite in a delectable double-bill. In O Corpo de Afonso, made for the Guimarães European cultural celebrations, João Pedro Rodrigues (offscreen) asks questions of twenty-four Galician men in various states of undress (in front of greenscreen), testing their knowledge of Portuguese history – in particular, the first (self-proclaimed) king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques. Their answers might surprise you, but in this variation on a casting session, their bodies do as much of the talking.
Mahjong, co-directed by Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, is a clever, mysterious addendum to last year’s competition entry, A Última Vez Que Vi Macau. The Joãos again employ film noir tropes in a story of a woman gone missing, but this time the Asian-tinged game is set in Portugal’s biggest Chinatown in Varziela (and maybe even bringing to mind Polanski’s film of the same name). Produced by the Vila do Conde short film festival, Mahjong sees both directors making onscreen appearances, with Guerra da Mata, and his hat, assuming the lead role.