A hallucinatory science fiction tale or a faithful portrait of Lisbon’s queer sphere, characterised by a desire for emancipation and an appreciation of bodily appetites. A journey, we could say, INTRA-galactic, through the planets of our unconscious, since dreams, visions and delusions form the core of the narrative. At first glance, it seems that Entre a Luz e o Nada, by Joana de Sousa, follows a new wave of Portuguese cinema, which brings with it a lot of colour, eccentric props and décor, drugs and raves. Like two of the many examples of this trend: Verão Danado (2017) or Frágil (2022).
The first images in the film belong to the short film Universe (1976), by Lester Novros, which tells of space mysteries in the famous voice of William Shatner, and which serves as a prologue to the focus on a group of young people preparing for a rave in an abandoned building. At one point, the narrator asks: “Is space travel to these planets possible?”. The film seems to give its answer. As the same narrator says, everything around us is made of dust from very distant stars, reinforcing the idea of the place of human beings in the immense cosmos and our belonging to it. In addition to this belonging, there is an intention to create an alien look on these people and in particular on Shade, the protagonist who suffers from insomnia due to lights appearing in the sky.
After being introduced to this space, Between Light and Nothing is a colourful reverie of people haunted by sidereal visits. The film ends up being a notebook of symbols, as you can see from the synopsis: “Cosmos, dolphins, techno and loneliness. Butterflies, love and raves. We close our eyes and cross the entire universe in a single night.” Such delirium belongs to the common fantasies of a generation, which serves as a device for creating the film’s universe. This is also where the freshness of Between Light and Nothing comes from, full of formulas that are latent in their ability to bring something more interesting than this result in the future. Here’s the foretaste: when beings from other planets visit us, they’ll find us in a ruined building dancing to techno.
Between and Nowhere, Joana de Sousa © Primeira Idade
It should be noted that this is a very different approach to her previous film Bétail (2014) and that it may signify a curious deviation in the director’s work. Between Light and Nothing is inspired by the mysteries of alien visits to our planet, childhood memories or lucid dreams, projecting itself onto an aesthetic cross-section of the 80s and 90s. It’s a search for new bodies, new animals, new ways of being, and it leaves behind a curious question: why are we looking for life on other planets if we continue to cover up so many lives on this one?
Article written in the context of the partnership between IndieLisboa and the Cineblog of the Philosophy Institute of NOVA/FCSH.