prog: 1724


On January 2013, Cinema Nova celebrates its anniversary. 16 years programming films by independent directors whose atypical approach to filmmaking is often ignored by mainstream media and festivals, but whose career we’ve followed throughout… Some of them have been surprised to discover one of their films awarded at a first category festival, garnering unforeseen attention. Such is the case of Miguel Gomes, a young Portuguese director whose films were largely overlooked but whose work is finally being distributed in our country. It’s worth noting that his new film, “Tabu”, has been collecting prizes for the past year, notably at last year’s Berlin Festival and most recently at the Ghent Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix for Best Film. Currently released in 40 countries, there has been no shortage of praise for “Tabu”.

The reason we are giving this film such an unusually prominent spot in our program – and thus infringing our principle of only screening movies that don’t get shown elsewhere – is not to add our voice to the cries of exaltation that it is already receiving. In 2009, Cinema Nova was the only theatre in Belgium to release Miguel Gomes’s previous feature, “Our Beloved Month of August”. We were just as captivated by the sensibility and breadth of this seemingly simple film as we were appreciative of its approach and stylistic freedom. “Tabu” has impressed us just as much! Heavily endowed with a beautiful subject matter, a strong talent for improvisation whose only match is his talent for distancing himself from the script, Gomes visibly enjoys mixing up registers and genres and toying with ruptures and contrasts. Another arresting element transpires from his films: he does not assume the role of the director, but that of the young boy who leads his friends into his game. The collective dimension that rules the creation and production of his films is palpable to all. The last scene of “Our Beloved Month of August” reveals to the audience the sound engineer, Vasco Pimentel, next to the director who only wanted real sounds in the film. Since then, the pair got together again to endow “Tabu” with a rather particular sound treatment that pays tribute to silent film, consistent with the entirety of the film which draws lessons from past in order to better invent its own cinematic language.

The general enthusiasm roused by Gomes seems rather justified in our eyes, even if he could have expressed himself with the same amount of energy in his previous films. That is what prompted us to devote an entire retrospective to this filmmaker whose oeuvre is made up of six short films and three full-length films with diegetic sound!

The retrospective will last all of seven weeks (from January 10th to February 24th) and it will kick off in the presence of Miguel Gomes and a few members of his crew (January 10th and 11th).
And since music is a guiding element in Gomes’s cinema, the Nova will also organize three rather unique concerts (January 11th and 18th, and February 23rd) in order to celebrate the release of his new film and to enter his universe in what we hope will be the most alluring way imaginable.

Miguel Gomes, 2012, PT, 35mm, ov st fr & ang, 118'

Aurora is constantly whining to her neighbour, treating her maid unfairly, and bemoaning her daughter’s unwillingness to visit her. Before dying, Aurora makes a mysterious wish: to see a man named Gian Luca Ventura one more time. The latter shares a secret pact with her, and has his own story to tell: a wonderful sentimental tragedy that took place fifty years ago, right before the beginning of the Portuguese Colonial War. The story begins as follows: “Aurora had a farm in Africa at the foot of Mount Tabu…”

“The project of the film is to show colonialism assimilated to a failed Hollywood.” –Miguel Gomes

“Tabu” begins with a black and white prologue, a film within the film, where an explorer is gobbled up by a crocodile who, in turn, becomes melancholic. This bit is followed by the story of Pilar, an aging crow who, in modern day Lisbon, lives alone in a melancholy of her own. In between her activities as a devoted Catholic, the courtship of a somewhat annoying painter and the treason of a Polish woman on her way to a Taizé meeting, we discover her elderly neighbour, Aurora. When she’s not splurging her cash in casinos, Aurora is slowly losing her mind and suspects her African servant, Santa, of casting a voodoo spell on her. On her deathbed, Aurora demands the presence of a man whose existence was unknown to everyone. Pilar and Santa quickly discover that this man indeed exists, but his mind is no longer whole…

After this “Lost Paradise”, the spectator is ushered into “Paradise”, the second part of the film which is shown to be a flashback. We hear Aurora’s lover’s voice recount their sorrowful story, in an Africa seen through a sort of asynchronous cinema where the images are consistent with the time but the sound is contemporary. We find ourselves immersed in realism and wonder, the grotesque and the tragic, trapped in a universe filled with colonial reminiscences, circumstantial music and sincere romances that is nevertheless ruled by poetry, humour from the past and the present, and a feeling of freedom transmitted only by masterpieces once they find the right tone. Even if “Tabu” is right on track, it is only through fiddling with the very notion of trails and paths – whether they be beaten or pristine, whether we follow them or not, but which are always filled with meaning. Freedom stems greatly from interference with these paths, from feeling that the course can be changed wherever, whenever.

For Miguel Gomes, “Tabu” is “a film of ghosts”. The defeated power of Portugal hovers palpably over it, just like the bruised love of its protagonists and the disappearance of silent film. “Paradise Lost” indeed. We’re confronted with material cinema, where the characters disappear alongside the material which films them. References to Murnau abound in “Tabu”: the title of the film as well as the titles of the parts that compose it (which are inversed), the name Aurora, and the imaginary world which consolidates the convergence of image and sound. Cinematic Africa faintly echoes Hollywood’s golden days, and we can sensibly access the sublime of Van Dyke’s Tarzan… In the African part of the film, the actors themselves appear plucked from another era: the sensual beauty of the young Aurora and the moustached charm of a modern Errol Flynn are not uninvolved with the fascination exerted by “Paradise”.

The recurring figure of the crocodile, a mere symbol in many instances but often a character in itself, is one of the most sensual and melancholic threads in the film. A clearly poetic element, a marvellous word pronounced with difficulty by children which is nevertheless disarming when pronounced in Portuguese.

On January 10th, the first showing of “Tabu” will be introduced by Miguel Gomes and followed by an encounter with the director as well as Mariana Ricardo, Bruno Duarte et Nuno Pessoa.

“Tabu" is not a film filled with cinephile references, nor is it a pastiche or a tribute; it’s a movie that goes back to the origins of cinema, the emotions and surprises that an image projected onto a white screen could arouse in the first spectators (…) Past and present, Portugal and Africa, slapstick and drama, life and death, men and animals, servants and masters, silences and songs…these are the ingredients to a poem of image and sound which dejectedly resuscitates an extinguished world, a golden age, a lost paradise which makes one laugh and cry with its twists and turns but also because one gets the feeling of witnessing a lost miracle in a time that isn’t worthy of it. It is rare to find films which seem to reinvent cinema, which offer an unforgettable experience where everything is charming. Tabu is one of those films. – Olivier Père, journalist and film programmer.

- The film will be presented until February the 24th (see calendar for time and date of screenings).

10.01 > 20:00 + 12.01 > 19:00 + 12.01 > 21:30 + 13.01 > 17:00 + 13.01 > 19:30 + 13.01 > 22:00 + 17.01 > 22:00 + 18.01 > 19:30 + 19.01 > 19:00 + 19.01 > 21:30 + 20.01 > 17:00 + 20.01 > 22:00 + 25.01 > 19:30 + 25.01 > 22:00 + 26.01 > 21:30 + 27.01 > 17:00 + 27.01 > 19:00 + 27.01 > 21:30 + 31.01 > 19:00 + 02.02 > 18:00 + 03.02 > 22:00 + 08.02 > 22:00 + 09.02 > 19:00 + 09.02 > 21:30 + 10.02 > 21:30 + 15.02 > 22:00 + 16.02 > 19:00 + 17.02 > 19:00 + 17.02 > 21:30 + 23.02 > 19:00 + 24.02 > 18:00
5€ / 3,5€

The film, a true ode to cinema, shot in black and white 35mm and 16mm (which give each part its own tonality) will be released in 35mm in Nova, the only theatre in Belgium where it won’t be a video projection. In an age where digital has taken over film at a dizzying rate and where film is an increasingly difficult and expensive medium, you can still experience this movie in its original format. The other films included in the Miguel Gomes retrospective will also be shown in 35mm.

lang: en
id_rubrique: 1725
prog: 1724
pos: aval