The Metamorphosis of Birds

Catarina Vasconcelos

IndieLisboa 2020 •

Portugal, Documentary, Fiction, 2020, 101′

Prized at the Berlin Film Festival, this work belongs to the families and its mysteries. In particular, the director’s family and her grandmother Beatriz, who got married at 21 with the navy officer Henrique. With her husband away at sea, Beatriz raised their six children. And among them, Jacinto, the filmmaker’s father. To be a mother, to imagine, to live without freedom, everything is a creative and emotional metamorphosis in Vasconcelos’ first feature.

With a poignant first work, Catarina Vasconcelos brings us a portrait of a family, her own, narrated by its inhabitants and reinvented by her. Through letters, pictures, flowers, curtains, statuettes, puzzles and boats, a perfect universe is built, with life and death, but above all with the heart. And Catarina’s heart is resistant and strong, she is sweet and full of character, she has ambition and ingenuity. It allows each constructed frame (the film progresses through narrative sequences) to have its independence and be constructed through the character of each persona. A performative game with this playful characteristic, which is appeasement after play. The intelligence shown when the director hides behind the mirrors in the forest or when she climbs the mountains, pushing adversity to the limit when she tries to raise a tree, are ways of affirming an authorial and personal cinema made in the name of an enchantment and on the basis of oral tradition. Fly, Catarina, fly, because still live in your thoughts “all the exceptional things that build the universe of those who do not fear gravity”. (Miguel Valverde)