when the night belongs to Pedro Costa


The night belongs to Pedro Costa. Always. Since The blood, his first feature film, produced in 1989, a tale of three wandering children possessed by the dark fever of sacrifice and secrecy. Dark, radical, haughty creator, Costa has since given, from time to time, news, shedding the gangue of classic cinematographic fiction, to which his first films still seem to be linked.

Always installed on the side of the voiceless, the recluse, he has been camping, more precisely since Ossos (1998), in the insanitary Cape Verdean islets of the gates of Lisbon, so many ossuaries, crypts, sepulchres, worried by the living dead who remain there. But from film to film, his gaze elevates them to a sort of meditative and pictorial splendor. It could be embarrassing. It never is. Costa, political filmmaker without verbiage or didacticism, films, in their beauty of inalienable and imperial zombies, the historical sacrifices of Western civilization.

Read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers Pedro Costa: “Making cinema to understand things”

Last gem to date, Vitalina Varela, whose release has been delayed for two years for the reasons we know. Fragile film, that’s nothing to say. Less dialogue and less story than ever. No more night. No more mopeyed silences, your eardrums exploding, and yet incessantly parasitized by such clattering of cutlery, such crackling of haunted dogs, such shapeless dispute in the African ghetto of Cova da Moura. But, here – after two episodes devoted to the august mason Ventura (Ahead of youth, in 2006 ; Cavalo Dinheiro, in 2014), which we find in this painting under the defrock of an angry priest whose faith falters – Costa returns to the woman. To his majestic sadness. Has its hidden, radiant vitality. Vitalina Varela is her name which sounds like that of a superheroine, which she is in her own way, arguably more substantially than Wonder Woman.

Costa returns to the woman. To his majestic sadness. To its hidden, radiant vitality

Cape Verdean in her fifties, who waited twenty-five years for her plane ticket to Lisbon in order to join her husband, Joaquim, who left to earn a living as a mason. She landed there, by a dark irony, a few days after the latter’s funeral, in June 2013. During all these years, Joaquim returned twice to the country, the time to buy a house which he undertook to build with Vitalina and which he never finished since he gave no more sign of life to his wife after this final stay. Here is what, with the help of Vitalina – who has since remained in Cova da Moura and lends itself to the game of a reconstruction – Pedro Costa evokes in broad strokes in this film.

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