23 MAY — 02 JUNE 2024

23 MAY — 02 JUNE 2024

Silvestre: aesthetic freedom and political intransigence

We are four weeks away from the opening of IndieLisboa’s twentieth edition, which is the perfect time to announce the line-up for one of the most awaited sections – Silvestre. As in other sections of the festival, this selection brings back authors such as Alice Diop, Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Hong Sang-soo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, or the collective Total Refusal, among many others. The line-up mixes fiction, documentary, experimental cinema and animation, brings together established names with talents of younger generations, presents films that are thematically close and in dialogue with each other. In total there are 15 features and 22 short films with different approaches and aesthetics, but similar in the way they use cinema as a tool for social and inherently political questioning.

Let’s start with the highlights of the films in competition. Saint Omer, Alice Diop’s first narrative work, which has collected awards and distinctions from festivals around the world, is a powerful film about the trial of Laurence Coly, a woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by abandoning her to the rising tide on a beach in northern France. Rama, a young writer, watches the proceedings, but as the trial continues, the words of the accused and witnesses’ testimonies will shake her convictions and leave our own judgement in question. Here, by Bas Devos, explores a possible love story between a Romanian construction worker and a young Belgian-Chinese woman preparing a PhD on moss. The Belgian director – another return to the festival – continues to film the invisible and the unspoken like no other, in a beautifully shot film about how two very different people manage to find and share common ground. Ten years after winning the IndieLisboa Feature Film Grand Prize with Leviathan, the duo Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel works on the dreamlike quality of the human body in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. Somewhere between abstract documentary and body-horror, the film consists of footage shot in eight French hospitals – surgeries, cuts, explorations and other baffling procedures. The duo’s photography, with its now traditional diagonal shots and extreme zooms, contribute to making this an immersive film in every sense. In a more relaxed register, Tenéis que Venir a Verla follows the melancholic hardships of two couple friends who meet again. Although everything is apparently fine, existential anxieties will permeate the conversations and the small banter of the four. A film divided into two parts, spring and winter, with the potential to seem tender to some people and ironic to others. Both readings are true. Still in Spanish but now set in Argentina, Maximiliano Schonfeld’s Luminum works on the relationship between Silvia and Andrea, two renowned ufologists who also happen to be mother and daughter. Together they lead a UFO research team and stand guard chasing the lights over the Paraná River. This documentary explores science and fiction through two characters connected by the most human emotion: friendship.

A prolific filmmaker, averaging several feature films a year, and with a very peculiar circular and metareferential oeuvre, Hong Sang-soo plays with his followers’ expectations with an intimate and poetic film in which each image has been carefully crafted, like an impressionist painting. Or the Korean director decided to play with the people who accuse him of constantly making the same film… and thought it was a good idea to blur his camera. Whatever the case, In Water is one of Silvestre’s great Out of Competition titles for 2023. Claire Simon’s camera observes a gynaecology clinic in Paris, collecting scenes of births, cancer diagnoses, endometriosis consultations and hormone therapy for a trans woman. Notre Corps starts off observational before becoming increasingly personal, a film about what it means to live in a female body and a wonderful example of the power of documentary filmmaking. Joanna Hogg also returns to the festival with The Eternal Daughter, one of last year’s most critically acclaimed films. A middle-aged woman and her mother are forced to confront old secrets when they return to the old family home, in a rare genre exercise for a director renowned for her minimalist dramas. With Tilda Swinton in double dose.

In the short films, it is impossible not to mention Incident, by Bill Morrison, the biggest name in American experimental cinema in recent decades. The film reconstructs a police shooting and its immediate consequences, assembled from archival footage, body-cameras, surveillance footage and a variety of sources. A History Of The World According To Getty Images, a protest film by Richard Misek, denounces the methods of large digital economic groups. Also online, but with a different focus, Hardly Working, by the “pseudo-Marxist” collective Total Refusal, works on NPCs, non-playable characters, in an exploration of their daily lives as digital extras of contemporary video games, from which they cannot escape except when the algorithm has a glitch. Sound familiar? 45th Parallel by Lawrence Abu Hamdan looks at the contradictions of borders and the laws that govern the space of the Haskell Library and Opera House, a municipal building built in 1904 that straddles the US-Canadian border. This peculiar location becomes the stage for an investigative monologue about the 2010 shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old Mexican by a US Border Patrol agent and the remote drone killings in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan. 

IndieLisboa will take place from April 27 to May 7, and its programme will be presented at Cinema São Jorge, Culturgest, Cinemateca Portuguesa and Cinema Ideal.

List of films

Festure films:

Being in a Place – A Portrait of Margaret Tait, Luke Fowler 
De humani corporis fabrica, Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Enys Men, Mark Jenkin
Garden Sandbox, Yukinori Kurokawa
Gigi la legge, Alessandro Comodin
Here, Bas Devos  
Luminum, Maximiliano Schonfeld
Saint Omer, Alice Diop 
Tenéis que venir a verla, Jonás Trueba
Trenque Lauquen, Laura Citarella

Short films:

“Years ago, I was working on a movie…”, Marion Naccache
45th Parallel, Lawrence Abu Hamdan
A History Of The World According To Getty Images, Richard Misek
Alegrías riojanas, Velasco Broca
Aqueronte, Manuel Muñoz Rivas
Camino de Lava, Gretel Marin
Entrance Wounds, Calum Walter
Fawley, Chu-Li Shewring e Adam Gutch
HAPPY DOOM, Billy Roisz
Hardly Working, Total Refusal
House of the Wickedest Man in the World, Jan Ijäs
Il faut regarder le feu ou brûler dedans, Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel
Incident, Bill Morrison
Issues with my other Half, Anna Vasof
It’s A Date, Nadia Parfan
Ode to Loneliness, Rawane Nassif
Outlets, Duncan Cowles
Prelude Op. 28 No. 2, Jenni Toikka
Repetitions, Morgan Quaintance
The Fruit Tree, Isabelle Tollenaere
Thread, Abigail Smith
Tiger Stabs Tiger, Jie Shen

Out of competition:

The Eternal Daughter, Joanna Hogg
In Ukraine, Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski
in water, Hong Sangsoo
Music, Angela Shanelec
Notre corps, Claire Simon
Slaughterhouses of Modernity, Heinz Emigholz