Looking Back: A brief history of Curtas' International Competition

26 February 2020
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Short films seem to be back in fashion, with several famous directors recently returning to the format. Either as a form of experimentation with cinema’s possibilities, or as a way to get around the constraints of a traditional production, or the immediate result of an increasing easiness to share a work with the public through new technologies, there are many examples: from the short films by David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson for Netflix, to the short by the Safdie brothers released at the time of the debut of “Uncut Gems”, to works by Yorgos Lanthimos (“Nimic”) and Luca Guadagnino (“The Staggering Girl” ) presented at festivals, or even Jonathan Glazer’s film (“The Fall”) that interrupted the BBC broadcast. For many, it is a return to a format they adopted early in their career, a path from shorts to features that is part of a director's normal journey. It is this trajectory that allows shorts to be a window into the future of their authors, reflecting a time of definition of their cinema.


Curtas Vila do Conde, in its international competition, is proud to have accompanied several important names in world cinema since the beginning of their careers, and to present the possibility of discovering the authors exactly at that stage of their creative vision. The history of this competition in Curtas is long and fertile. It is the competition that has been going on since the first edition, in 1993, whose objective has always been to make new authors known, at an early stage of their career or otherwise not very known until then by the portuguese public as stated in the catalog of the first edition of festival: “Short film, short scale: there are many great names of today who were forged in this school (...) thus, promoting the short film is to participate in the construction of the present cultural universe, it is to prepare the cultural universe of tomorrow".

In the field of fiction, one of the most important names that the festival followed from an early stage is Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Lang: winner of the prize for best fiction in 2003 (“La Passarelle Disparue”) and in 2009 (“Madame Butterfly” ), he alternates his feature films with shorter films, often repeating characters and themes, as a way of exploring new variations for his minimalist cinema; another notorious example is Apichatpong Weerasethakul: the subject of a retrospective at the festival in 2006 that made the filmmaker known to the Portuguese public, and also known as a visual artist for his installations presented at Solar - Cinematic Art Gallery, in 2009 his short “A Letter to Uncle Boonmee” was screened in competition, a precursor film to the work that would win the Cannes Festival a year later - thus illustrating the recurring possibility of using this format to work on a sketch of what may later be a feature film. Hou Hsiao-Hsien is another filmmaker of the Asian “new wave” that the festival also followed, but we can also speak of other names: from the American contingent, which helped discover authors like Spike Jonze, Harmony Korine or Sean Durkin, or the recent golden period of Romanian cinema, which revealed names like Adrian Sitaru and Corneliu Porumboiu, or the strong influence of French production, from Alain Guiraudie (awarded in 2002) to Louis Garrel (2011), to authors who today redefine a new identity for cinema in France, like Yann Gonzalez (awarded in 2006 and 2017) and Bertrand Mandico (Festival’s Grand Prize in 2011). One of the most recent examples of this happy coincidence of discovering authors through their short films is the Israeli Nadav Lapid, winner in 2016 of the Grand Prize of Curtas and recently awarded the top prize of the Berlin Festival in 2019.


Animation has always been a fundamental segment of this format, allowing greater contact with works that would otherwise be unlikely to be shown in movie theaters. In the first edition, in 1993, the festival awarded the work of Aleksandr Petrov, a Russian filmmaker who would later win the Oscar for Best Animation in 1999. In the following edition, it would be the turn to get to know the work of Nick Park, creator of the series “Wallace and Gromit”, awarded in that year for the film “The Wrong Trousers” (with which he would also win the Oscar), he would again be awarded by the public of Curtas in 1996 with “A Close Shave” - with 4 awards from the Hollywood Academy, he is one of the most acclaimed names in this genre. Humor is one of the hallmarks of this area of cinema and authors such as the American Bill Plympton, awarded in 2005 for “Guard Dog” and a constant presence at the festival since 1997, or the Belgian duo Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, authors of the series “Panique au Village”, present at the festival also since 1997 (and awarded at the festival in 2004, 2014 and 2019) are some of the authors that Curtas has accompanied throughout its various editions. David O'Reilly is an author who explores in an original way the possibilities of 3D and the intersection between animation and video games, as is the case of “Everything”, screened in 2017 - in addition to several selections in the competition, he was awarded in 2008 with his film “RGB XYZ”. Ludovic Houplain, one of the authors of “Logorama”, awarded with the Audience Award in 2009 and with Oscar the following year, returned in 2019 with “My Generation”, a new work on the icons of the modern world - it is a follow-up of its “authors” that is also part of the festival's identity and this competitive section.


The documentary genre has seen several evolutions over the years of the festival, which has accompanied the growing attention dedicated to the format and the tendencies of diminishing boundaries between this genre and fiction. It is something that is reflected by the authors that the festival has presented, as is the case with Sergei Loznitsa, Ukrainian director who alternates between documentary and fiction and often seeks a balance between the two - he was awarded in 1999 for the film “Life Autumn” and in 2001 with “Polustanok”, and is one of the authors with more presences in the international competition of Curtas. Another important name that demonstrates how documentary and fiction have become entangled in recent times is Nicolás Pereda, an award-winning filmmaker in 2009 (“Entrevista con la Tierra”) and 2014 (“El Palacio”). The documentary is also a comprehensive area, which offers space to authors who explore the experimental side of the format, like the cases of Deborah Stratman (awarded in 2003 and with several films screened over the years) or Thom Andersen (one of the authors  that made a film for Curtas, and awarded in 2011 with “Get Out of the Car”), or the more traditional side, as is the case with Victor Asliuk, a Belarusian director known for his candid portraits of figures on the margins of society. From one side to the other there are different definitions and interpretations of what cinema can be, immense possibilities represented by different cinematographies from different countries and cultures, and always authors to be discovered, waiting to surprise us with the imagination of cinema. The truth is that shorts have never stopped being fashionable.

Winner of "My Generation" is one of the nominees of the Oscars 2020

13 January 2020
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The film "Nefta Football Club" by Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi, winner of the program "My Generation" of Curtas Vila do Conde, is among the five nominees for the category “Best Short Film” of the Oscars 2020.

"My Generation", the new competitive section of Curtas Vila do Conde, is especially directed to the age group between 14 and 18. The short films of this section were selected by a group of 12 students from Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim High Schools.

"Nefta Football Club" portrays the story of Abdallah, a soccer fan, who finds in the desert a mule that carried drugs, that he believes to be detergent. Abdallah decides to use the "detergent" to draw the marking lines on his football field. 

The awards ceremony for the 92nd Oscars will be held on February 9 in Los Angeles.

Carlos Conceição wins the Revelation Award at Doclisboa

28 October 2019
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"Serpentarius", first feature film by Carlos Conceição, was awarded with the Tv Cine New Talent Award DocLisboa that took place from 17th to 27th October in Lisbon. Carlos Conceição was the second director "in focus" of the 27th Curtas Vila do Conde, where all his films were screened, including the national premiere of the award-winning "Serpentário".

The film was presented on the 25th October within the festival's section entitled New Visions, whose program aims to discuss borders and limits with films from different times that question the contemporary nature of cinema.

The New Talent Prize is given to the director of the best first feature film of the event's whole program, except retrospectives and cinema of urgency, and was awarded by the jury composed of Aya Koretzky (director, Portugal), Sofia Bohdanowicz (director, Canada) and Veton Nurkollari (artistic director of the Dokufest Festival, Kosovo).

“Serpentarius" a Luso-Angolan co-production, represented by Agência - Portuguese Short Film Agency, follows a young man who drifts through a post-disaster African landscape in search of his mother's ghost, and is led by the actor João Arrais with the participation of Isabel Abreu (voice).

The film had its world premiere at the Forum section of the Berlinale an it won the Nuove Visione Award at Sicilia Queer in Italy, the Burgas Film Festival Audience Award in Bulgaria, the Best Editing Award and a Special Mention for Best Film at the Filmadrid Festival, as well as a Nouveaux Alchemists Special Jury Mention at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma.

Leonor Teles and Gabriel Abrantes finalists of European Film Awards

23 October 2019
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"Dogs Barking at Birds" by Leonor Teles and "The Marvelous Misadventures of the Stone Lady" by Gabriel Abrantes are among the five finalists of the European Film Awards, in the category of "Best Short Film". The winners will be announced on 7th December.

"Dogs Barking at Birds", produced by Uma Pedra no Sapato and promoted internationally by the AGÊNCIA – Portuguese Short Film Agency, was commissioned and financed by the Municipality of Porto, within the scope of the project “Cultura em Expansão”, and entirely shot in the city of Porto. The film follows the summer days of Vicente and his family, forced to leave their home in central Porto, due to real estate speculation. 


To get to this short list, the juris of 19 festivals from all over Europe, of which Curtas Vila do Conde is the only Portuguese festival included, chose a nominee that now resulted in 5 finalists. "The Marvelous Misadventures of the Stone Lady", by Gabriel Abrantes, was awarded and chosen by the jury of the 27th Curtas Vila do Conde as candidate to the nominees of the European Film Awards. The short film was also rewarded with the “Great Prize Fiction” and the "Audience Award" at the festival.


These awards recognize the excellence of films produced in Europe and are awarded annually by the European Film Academy, composed of around 3,500 professionals in the field. The 32nd ceremony of the European Film Awards will be held in Berlin, Germany, on 7th December.

Euro Connection 2020: Submissions are open

10 September 2019
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The 12th edition of Euro Connection will take place on 4 and 5 February 2020, during the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. This platform aims to assist partnerships between European producers in the production of short films.

In each country, national correspondents evaluate all submitted projects and choose the finalist project. Registration for the next edition ends on October 20, 2019.
Projects must meet the following requirements:
- short film of animation, fiction or creative documentary;
- duration up to 40 minutes;
- the project must have part of its funding secured by a third party (external source);
- the producer must be open to international co-productions (suitable project or intended for co-production);
- Shooting or production should start from June 2020;
A European jury of 3 industry professionals from different nationalities will then elect up to 14 projects to go to the final and pitch during the festival. The list of finalists will be made available to the winners by the end of November 2019. Producers must submit their short film projects by October 20, 2019 to the representative of their country.
In Portugal, the associated festivals are Curtas Vila do Conde and IndieLisboa. All entries must be sent to: Miguel Dias mdias@curtas.pt or Miguel Valverde miguel.valverde@indielisboa.com

See the rules and application form here.

"Serpentarius" selected to Viennale

28 August 2019
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“Serpentarius”, first feature film by director Carlos Conceição, will be part of Viennale's program, to be held from October 24th to November 6th, in Vienna, Austria.

 

Serpentarius” by Carlos Conceição, a Portuguese-Angolan co-production, represented by Agência - Portuguese Short Film Agency, had its world premiere at Berlinale Forum and was first exhibited in Portuguese territory at Curtas Vila do Conde where the author was Director in Focus. In the meantime, the film won the Nuove Visione Prize at Sicilia Queer in Italy, the Audience Award at the Burgas Film Festival in Bulgaria and is now selected for Viennale, the most important international film event in Austria as well as one of the most world's oldest and best known German-speaking festivals.

 

"Serpentarius" will be screened at part of the Viennale Features section, accompanied by films by Pedro Costa, Agnés Varda, Nadav Lapid or the Dardenne brothers. About this Austrian premiere, Viennale's programmer, Nico Marzano, wrote about the film on the event's webpage:

 

Carlos Conceição's first full length feature "Serpentarius" unfolds before our eyes as an hypnotic journey between memories and premonitory visions, and the idea of voyage as starting point for a personal and collective search. The film and the gaze of Carlos Conceição, a long-time collaborator of João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, is inextricably rooted in his personal journey, and that of his family, from Angola (where he is originally from) to Portugal. Through undefinable landscapes, haunting mythology and sci-fi ruins, the search for the director's mother and his origins begins. "Serpentarius" progressively takes shape as a cinematic alter ego that speaks of the act of leaving, setting out, exploring. Preoccupations such as colonialism, slavery and the relationship between the land and people who belong to that land are embedded in the idea of a spiritual quest. "Serpentarius" unfolds as an odyssey, an ancestral road movie, suspended between multiple dimensions that take us through the desert, ruins, history, future and all those places of life and death. However the serpentarium is also the place where snakes are bred, it is the job of those who carry them, the constellation from which it's possible to observe the world. As in a long stream of consciousness, "Serpentarius" is a personal and existential reflection relying on associations of ideas and spaces that plays with Proust, with our soul, in a continuous digression where in turn courted by ladies wearing eighteenth-century laces around their necks; passengers in a van or the Three Caravels; gunslingers in the saloons of the Wild West or astronauts looking for another dimension beyond space and time. What are we looking for ? Identity, belonging, tradition, roots represented by a mother left behind and whose absence keeps returning in dreams and memories yet as a physical, palpable and haunting presence.

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