Films to revisit history and political thought

It is worth looking at what cinema has to say about the present, when it focuses on the past: the history of colonization and the way it is told by different subjects, the oppression seen by those who escaped its shadows, the crushing of the middle class or the ghosts which echo in the daily life of those who have managed to free themselvess. Between May 3rd and 14th, IndieLisboa has many films to fuel the debate, through a look at the social, political and economic ideas of the world.

Ermera Roses takes us on a trip to the family history of Zeca Afonso, whose parents and sister were detained in Timor at the height of the conflicts in the Pacific. Starting from the memories of the surviving brothers and the Zeca Afonso’s songs, Luís Filipe Rocha tells a family adventure in a dark chapter of Portugal’s history. In Obscure Light, a film which is part of the national competition, Susana de Sousa Dias goes back to the PIDE archives and looks at the stories of the regime, based on the reports of her relatives. A film which restores the genealogies amputated by the dictatorship, the same regime which considered itself the supreme defender of the family values. Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, the closing film, tells the story of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, based on the unfinished writings of James Baldwin. Nominated at the Oscars, forBest Documentary, Raoul Peck’s film portrays a dark period of the twentieth century, but always keeping an eye on the present.
Under the name Alt-Cinema umbrella , IndieLisboa has a selection of films which are intended to open up new perspectives on prevailing historical and political issues. The Arab-Israeli conflict is reviewed in Ghost Hunting, in which Raed Andoni reconstructs the memories of a group of ex-political prisoners by the Israeli regime. The film was awarded the Silver Bear for best documentary at the Berlin Film Festival and reconstructs the interrogation rooms and the humiliations reported by the prisoners. Considered one of the best movies of the year by movie critic Nicole Brenez, I Pay For Your Story is a ruthless portrait of the USA, through the voices of the inhabitants of Utica, once a thriving industrial town, now a ruined territory. Karl Marx City is a reflection on the contemporary state of security through which Petra Epperlein (in collaboration with her husband Michael Tucker) discovers some of the clues that may have led to the suicide of her father, supposedly a Stasi agent. The cycle closes with a unique look at Portuguese colonization in Mozambique: A Memory in Three Acts gives voice to those who were silenced during the regime (imprisoned and tortured or forced into hiding).

In terms of shorts, some attention needs to payed to the shorts screening of the Silvestre section: Documentary on Politics. Benjamin d’Aoust hears the prison rumours, Corps investigates what goes beyond the walls. Jokinen is a detective film which traces the history of the Communist Party in the US, racial tensions, and the Finnish immigration in the 1930s. It is Never Nighttime on the Map exposes the automated immateriality of Google Maps. Armed with his chroma key screen, Douwe Dijkstra films people from Brazil and confuses them with his strange views of things, in Green Screen Gringo. Borders is a documentary film: the exodus of refugees on their way to the Brezice camp, between Slovenia and Croatia.

In addition to films, this politicized strand of IndieLisboa will also be noticeable in the first LisbonTalk of the edition, Cinema as a Political Tool, a conversation moderated by Tiago Dias (Lusa), where Susana de Sousa Dias (film director), José Filipe Costa (film director) , Ricardo Alexandre (RTP) and Sofia Branco (Lusa) will discuss the role which journalism and cinema play in today’s democracy and whether or not they can be useful tools for an informed and interventionist citizenship, in an era in which the populism of Trump, the far right of Le Pen and Temer, and the conservatism of Theresa May gain ground. The conversation takes place on May 5, Friday, at 6.30 pm, Cinema São Jorge.