News from the Locarno Festival

“I do what I feel I have to do.”

“I do what I feel I have to do.”



After the cancellation of the press conference for Cavavo Dinheiro, a Q&A session took place with a very quiet but very attentive audience.  Luckily, Pedro Costa had a lot to say.  Those who know Costa’s previous work know the character of Ventura, and Costa confirmed that, like his previous feature film, Juventude em Marcha, this film was also based on stories and anecdotes which Ventura had to share.  However, it appears that these same anecdotes were very personal to Costa as well, that Ventura and himself are almost the same age, that the date March 11, 1975, which the movie constantly references, was a time where Costa was first discovering music, art and politics. 

However, it was a very difficult film to make.  Ventura is very sick, it seems, and it was difficult for him to remember particular things about this time, so Costa says “I think we made this film to forget.”  Asked a question about John Ford, he responds, “You people are crazy!” and explains that while he wasn’t thinking about Ford, his movies are with him always, and some glimpses may shine through his work subconsciously. “I want to make things poetic, like Baudelaire,” is the closest we get to an explanation. Perhaps it’s more from the Russians, he says.  Asked about the music in the film, he again says it is because of Ventura.  “Ventura likes to sing,” he says.  In fact, music is more prominent in this new work than the last two feature-length films Costa has made.  His last film Ne Change Rien, could be described as a music documentary, though a small comment he makes here seems to imply that he considers it just as important as the other, more revered films.  Here there are pieces by Tubarões and Messiaen.  Mark Peranson, the host, makes note of a montage where a Cape Verdean song plays, and links it to an earlier sequence of Jacob Riis photos.  Costa looks a bit mystified and says that nothing was carefully planned.  “It’s a construction!  I thought a little bit about the film!” 

Moving on, Costa makes mention that the movies script was mostly written by the actors during the shooting.  To watch the film, one would think the opposite, especially in the context of his previous work.  It seems to have been constructed quite carefully!  However, Costa says that there are things which he doesn’t even understand, which nevertheless he was compelled to leave in the movie.  The more Costa speaks, the more he implies that this was a movie that came primarily from intuition.  Asked how he finds the final shape of the project, he responds: “Think a little bit.”   The conversation winds down, and Costa admits that he feels weak, in comparison to the filmmakers who he loves.  He feels like there is alot of death in this new film, and he doesn’t want it to be that way.  He goes on to say even that “It’s not my dream to make this kind of film.”  Nevertheless, he does.  “I do what I feel I have to do.”


Neil Bahadur

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