- 22.2.2016 16:21 -
Falling in love could be seen as a revolutionary act. Interview with Catarina Vasconcelos
We present an interview with Portuguese director Catarina Vasconcelos, maker of Metaphor or Sadness Inside Out. The interview accompanies her film as well as the Portuguese retrospective at DAFilms.com. Until February 28, you can watch 6 remarkable Portuguese documentary films from Doclisboa at our portal for free.
Your film Metaphor or Sadness Inside Out is based on a correspondence between a brother and sister. What does this kind of lyrical dialogue mean to you personally and what does it mean to the Super 8 film style?
I’ve been writing for a long time, and maybe that’s the thing that has always accompanied me since I was a teenager. I remember writing things that I couldn’t say to people. So I would write them letters that would never be sent. This happens a lot, I guess, when you are in the process of growing up and you fall in love, or you have a broken heart, or when you are in a grieving moment. It happened for sure with me during my mother’s illness. Writing, and the possibility of having a lyrical view on something that caused me so much pain, was a catharsis. In this film I guess it has the same effect for me, while guiding the narrative through a family/country story. I haven’t lived in the 70s, but I have been listening to so many stories from this time that I started to nurture a sort of familiarity with it: a fascination with a time that I don’t belong to. The super 8 images resemble the way I firstly came to see this time. At the same time it was a way of “printed” memories and of trying to see the world through the lens of a time I haven’t lived in.
Can you talk a little bit on how intimacy (family history) meets politics (history) in your film?
A family story needs to be contextualized. I felt it during the process of doing this film. I felt I couldn’t possibly separate my family from the time they have been in: the revolutions and fights they had were part of their construction of who they are. Their intimacy was made as well of the politics of their time. Falling in love could be seen as a revolutionary act: how to bring love to such a grey time?
Your film was called a "fight against oblivion" also. (Do you agree?) Can you explain?
It started like that! My mother had passed away 10 years ago. After 10 years without seeing a person you cannot recall her face anymore. You can only recall her face through photos or moving images. Every time you tell a story, this story is modified… so after 10 years, how do you recall someone? How can you not have lost someone? This thought was driving me mad! How come that I couldn’t remember some things about my mother?... During the process of trying to remember her, Portugal was going through a crisis. An economic crisis, but a memory crisis as well. Things that the 1974 revolution had fought for have been forgotten. There was this parallel between my mother’s memory and my country’s memory. And, as my grandfather said, “he had already lost a daughter. He couldn’t afford to lose a country.”
Do the sadness and sea motives in the film have anything to do with Portuguese cultural traditions like fado?
No. Fado is a filter that has been used to explain everything about Portugal involving sadness, nostalgia and grief. But those feelings are bigger than fado; they are more universal than fado is. Fado is part of the Portuguese culture whereas absence, fear or death is a universal thing.
What are your plans for future projects? (Will memory and blending intimacy and politics remain your main topic?)
Memories will be part of my next film: I guess they always work as an anchor point to start something. It doesn’t mean that the whole film is memory based. But having stories that I’ve been told as a base is a way to enter the unknown more profoundly.