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Farewell, Master!

9 April 2015
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We considered him immortal. A filmmaker has died with 106 years old and with a work that spans almost the entire history of the twentieth century. A filmmaker with an oeuvre extended along 80 years, between “Labor on the Douro River” (1929-1931), his first film, and “The Old Man of Belém” (2014), his closing work. Manoel de Oliveira has died! The great Portuguese filmmaker is one of the most respected directors in cinema’s history and also a dear friend of Curtas Vila do Conde.

At the Festival, Manoel de Oliveira was a constant presence over the years. He patronized the event since its first edition and was precisely with his films that the 1st Curtas Vila do Conde began in 1993, devoting a special retrospective. There were screened: "Labor on the Douro River" (1931), "Famalicão" (1940), "The Artist and the City" (1956), "O Pão" (1959), "As Pinturas do meu Irmão Júlio" (1965) and "A Caça" (1963). The Documentary Award, which is given annually, has his name.


He was often in the festival to present his films. Several of these visits he had direct contact with the audience through conversations or debates. Manoel de Oliveira enjoyed very much talking to the public to share his love for cinema. For example, in 1995, by the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Portuguese cinema, during the 3rd Curtas Vila do Conde, he participated in a debate about contemporary cinema in a panel also composed by Gus Van Sant, Mikhail Kobakhidze and Jon Jost.


And Oliveira was also very curious, observant to what was going on in the new cinema. For him, the Festival was also a place for the discovery of authors. It was with this cinephile curiosity that Manoel de Oliveira came to Curtas Vila do Conde in 1997 – in a retrospective dedicated to Alexander Sokurov –, with a voracious desire to know the work of the Russian author. As part of this special program, the two filmmakers had a long conversation about film, art and religion, which was recorded on video.


It is this conversation - later published in the book Pure Cinema: Curtas Vila do Conde 20 Years After – that we make available in a PDF file (version in Portuguese and English):


Presenting films, discussing them with the audience, seeing with curiosity everything new that appeared in contemporary cinema, Oliveira was a frequent spectator, often accompanied by his dear friend Father Prof. João Marques, another beloved figure of Curtas Vila do Conde and who died also three weeks ago. Another curiosity the is that it was indeed with "The Divine Comedy", that was held the first screening of the Vila do Conde Cinema Club in a newly opened Auditório Municipal, still and always with Oliveira physical presence.


There are many other stories, submerged by time, but Manoel de Oliveira will always be with us as living memory of cinema and as a symbol of a great artistic freedom. This freedom will always be primary objective of the Festival.


Farewell, master. We will continue to see your films.