Looking Back: the stories of the Portuguese Competition

5 May 2020
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The Portuguese Competition had its debut in the third edition of Curtas, in 1995. It is the second competition of the festival with greater longevity, only behind the International Competition. The history of this competition is also the history of Curtas and closely linked to the most important events in Portuguese cinema in the last three decades. This is evident when recalling some of the names that found in Curtas a space to flourish and expand their artistic vision, particularly in a period of renovation and reinvention of Portuguese cinema from the 90's, which even led to the popularization of the expression “Geração Curtas” (Curtas Generation), coined by Augusto M. Seabra. He wrote in 1999, in the newspaper “Público”: «Most of these authors differ from the older ones in the sense that they do not encourage any particular spirit of mission to reproduce any dominant image of “Portuguese cinema”, they are interested in making cinematic art and that's enough». Proof of the current validity of this statement is the way in which, during the period of the last economic crisis in Portugal and the scarcity of funds for cinema, short films were once again essential to glimpse into the future of Portuguese cinema.

One of the most important authors associated with “Geração Curtas” and whose journey has been closely followed by the festival since the beginning is Miguel Gomes, who presented his first film “Entretanto” in the 1999 edition. The film, which accompanies a trio of teenagers on summer days under the influence of amorous enchantments and inner uncertainties in an ethereal and melancholy portrait, won the award for Best Director of the Portuguese Competition, revealing an affirming filmmaker, searching for his own cinema. In the following years Miguel Gomes would be a regular presence at the festival, reinventing himself with each new film, such as “Inventário de Natal” (2000), “Kalkitos” (2002), “31” (2002) and “Cântico das Criaturas” (2006), which won the prize for Best Film. The festival would later witness the debut of his feature films, such as “Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto” (2008) and the trilogy “As Mil e Uma Noites” (2015).

 

Another inseparable author of this period of Portuguese cinema and who left his mark on this competition several times, is João Nicolau. The director presented his first work in the 2006 edition, “Rapace”, a musical poem with sentimental and humorous notes about the adventures of a boy, with which he won the Grand Prize for Best Film; later with “Canção de Amor e Saúde” (2009) he would be awarded the Best Film of the National Competition, and would also present “O Dom das Lágrimas” (2012, out of competition) and “Gambozinos” (2013, honorable mention in the Curtinhas section, dedicated to films for children), films that made it possible to accompany the refining of a unique visual sense.

 

However, to talk about “Geração Curtas” is to talk about Sandro Aguilar, who has been a constant presence throughout the festival almost since its first edition, and is one of the most relevant names in Portuguese cinema in recent years, not only for his work as a director and editor, but also for his important work as a producer (he produced, for example, the first films by Miguel Gomes and João Nicolau, but also films by Manuel Mozos and Ivo Ferreira). In 1998, he was quoted by Augusto M. Seabra: «Whoever is making short films today has a way of seeing things different from previous generations. Some are provocative and bet on the possibility of not needing a narrative story. That is how potential filmmakers are created». With a distinct visual style, closer to the experimental and sensorial, Curtas has followed over the years the different permutations of a filmmaker always willing to take risks: in 1998 he was the winner of the Prize for Young Portuguese Filmmaker with the film “Estou Perto”; in 2001 his film “Corpo e Meio” was the winner of the Prize for Best Film in the National Competition, and also the nominee of the festival for the European Film Awards, a nomination that he repeated in 2005 with “A Serpente”; after several appearances in the National competition, in 2017 he presented his second feature film, “Mariphasa”.

 

If throughout the short history of Curtas in its history of 27 editions some Portuguese films were awarded in categories that go beyond this competition, only in 2006 the main prize of the festival - the Grand Prize for Best Film in Competition (which encompasses all competing films, national and international) was attributed for the first time to a Portuguese film: “Rapace” by João Nicolau. And if only after 13 editions this prize was awarded to a Portuguese director, it would happen again only in 2013, in the twentieth edition of Curtas, with “Carosello” by Jorge Quintela. However, recently something seems to have changed and this barrier has been broken: Filipa César was awarded the Grand Prix in 2015 for “Mined Soil”, and in 2017 Marta Mateus received an equal distinction for “Farpões Baldios”.

 

These new occurrences also seem to signal another trend, which is the fact that more and more of the award-winning films belonged to female directors, the result of a welcome change in the paradigm in the panorama of national production. In addition to the mentioned names, Curtas has made known new female authors such as Ana Maria Gomes (in 2016, with “António Lindo António”), Alice Eça Guimarães and Mónica Santos (Audience Award in 2015 with “Amélia & Duarte, and in 2018, with “Entre Sombras”), Salomé Lamas (Best Documentary in 2012 for “Community”) and Leonor Noivo (honorable mention in 2012 for “A Cidade e o Sol”), or the most recent awards in the category of Best Director: Margarida Lucas (2015 with “Rampa”), Ana Moreira (2018 with “Aquaparque”) and Mariana Gaivão (2019 with “Ruby”).

 

Several other names over the years helped to build the identity of Curtas and also a new identity for Portuguese cinema. The first Portuguese awarded at Curtas was in fact Abi Feijó, an essential name of the Portuguese animation, in the second edition in 1994, even before the creation of a National Competition. In 1995 the first prize for the National Competition was awarded to Marco Martins (for “Mergulho de Ano Novo”, co-directed with João Braz), a director who would later be awarded in Cannes with his first film “Alice” (2005); like Martins, other names were distinguished at the beginning of their careers with the award for Best Film, such as Inês de Medeiros in 1998, Margarida Cardoso in 1999, Jorge Cramez in 2002, Rodrigo Areias in 2008; or even Ivo Ferreira in 1999 (Young Portuguese Filmmaker Award), Daniel Blaufuks in 2001 (Best Director). In addition to these names, the festival made it possible to discover the forays into the short film format by renowned authors, such as Pedro Costa (prize for Best Film in 2011, with “O Nosso Homem”) and João Pedro Rodrigues (2012, nomination for the European Film Awards with “Manhã de Santo António” and 2017, Best Film with “Où en êtes-vous, João Pedro Rodrigues?”), who is himself a frequent presence at the festival, often in collaboration with João Guerra da Mata, as in the case of Curtas commissioned film, “Mahjong” (2013).

 

In the already long history of Curtas, and of the countless and valuable authors who passed through the festival, there is however a curiosity to note: three names won the National Competition twice, leaving their mark on the honors with their cinema, from social to documentary to intimate and personal: Pedro Caldas, with "Pedido de Emprego" in 2000, and in 2007 with "Europe 2007"; Miguel Clara Vasconcelos with "Documento Boxe" in 2005 and "O Triângulo Dourado" in 2012; and Basil da Cunha with “À Côté” in 2010, and “Os Vivos também Choram” in 2012. Recently it has been Gabriel Abrantes, another prolific author with several appearances in Curtas, whose creative streak reveals an irreverent and unpredictable author always willing to taking risks and reinventing oneself, which has been distinguished with several awards: honorable mention in 2011 (with “Fratelli”, co-directed with Alexandre Melo), Best Director in 2016 and 2017 (with “A Brief History of Princess X” and “Os Humores Artificiais”), and Best Fiction and nomination for the European Film Academy awards in 2019 (“Les extraordinaires mésaventures de la jeune fille de pierre”).

 

If the history of Curtas and the national competition is the sum of its various authors and visions, its future will also be a mirror of what we have witnessed so far: surprising, exciting, tempting, vital and in constant renovation and reinvention, which corresponds to a desire to intervene artistically over the world. In other words, returning to the text about “Geração Curtas”: «they are interested in making cinematic art and that's enough».

(João Araújo) 

Short Films for Long Days

8 April 2020
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In this moment of responsible seclusion and social isolation, in which the world we know seems temporarily suspended, one of the things we miss at this time might be, among many others, the possibility of visiting a film theatre and letting ourselves be taken away by the prospect of a movie. While we wait for the return to normal days, it seems important to keep in touch with this habit, even if now in a virtual way. Agência – Portuguese Short Film Agency has carried out an initiative with the title “Short Films for Long Days” to precisely help close the distance to the cinema as place of community and sharing, presenting several short films by Portuguese authors in a virtual space.

Curtas Vila do Conde is associating itself with this initiative with a program that celebrates the short film format and presents some of Curtas' productions over the past few years, from international authors (titles that will be made available in the first week of the cycle) and national authors (films made available in the second week), thus enabling the (re)discovery of these works. These films count as an important feature a connection to the northern region of Portugal, and some of them even have a direct relationship with Vila do Conde, where they were filmed. This program makes it possible to discover not only part of the recent history of the festival, but also the region where it takes place.

Curtas recently announced the postponement of this year's edition to a new date, from the 3rd to the 11th of October, and this will be a way of keeping the festival's audience connected to Curtas' films, while we wait for news. The films will be placed online in this space [https://vimeo.com/showcase/short-films-for-long-days], and the different titles will be released in the coming days, joining the list. Thus, we hope to contribute in some way to reduce the longing for cinema and keep the conversations around the films, even if not outside the auditorium, so that we can all be closer.

“The Dockworker's Dream” by Bill Morrison:
"In 2015, Curtas Vila do Conde brought together filmmaker Bill Morrison and the band Lambchop for an unprecedented project of a film-concert, created from the director's research in the ANIM’s archives. The visual and sound result of this initiative and the success of the concert led to the production of a short film. Kurt Vagner took the opportunity to explore, in a long song entitled ""The Hustle"", krautrock sounds and vintage electronics hitherto barely visible in Lambchop’s discography. The film was also an important feature in the promotion of the album “FLOTUS”." (Miguel Dias)


"Night Without Distance” by Lois Patiño:

"Filmed in the hills of Gerês, on the border between Portugal and Galicia, “Noite Sem Distância” seems to be situated between two worlds, on the border between the lingering description of a practice that has been repeated since forever and a strange sensory and hypnotic dream. The representation of the passage of time is precisely one of the central themes of Patiño's filmography, which here portrays a night just like so many others, in which contraband traveled through that region, as a succession of several moments that are expanded, removing its specificity of time and thus creating a timeless, almost sacred, serene beauty. The use of a negative image filter gives the film a transcendental and illusory aspect, but it also serves to transform the characters into indistinct figures, as if ghosts-witnesses of nature, figures that blend and intertwine with the elements around them or “traces of souls in the landscape”, as Teixeira de Pascoaes wrote in the poem quoted at the beginning of the film. A journey from the real to the poetic, this is also a small fable about the resistance of memory." (João Araújo)

 

This film was produced by Curtas Vila do Conde within the scope of the CAMPUS project, an audiovisual training program in university in partnership with several Portuguese universities in the Porto area, which promoted workshops and masterclasses with important names in contemporary cinema (national and international) and resulted in the production of films like this, with the filmmakers working with a team composed of university students.

"Fernando Who Received A Bird From The Sea” by Helvécio Marins Jr. and Felipe Bragança:
"A beautiful and candid parable about preconceived ideas and unlikely friendships, Fernando Que Ganhou um Pássaro do Mar", filmed between Bairro das Fontainhas, in Porto, and Rio Janeiro, tells us the correspondence between two uknown friends, which begins when Fernando, in Porto, receives a bird sent across the ocean. This exchange of letters, which is actually a monologue at the beginning, reveals a game of mirrors, in the sense that it begins by revealing reflected ideas, possibilities of what we imagine to be on the other side. It is 2013 and Fernando, unemployed, divides his time between a small apartment with few conditions and the café on the corner, while he complains, by letter, of the bird that does not seem to be a great gift but that helps to alleviate the loneliness. Fernando imagines a paradisiacal Brazil, with its hot water beaches, mermaids and indians in their palaces, and that is exactly what we see on the other side, the fantasy idea of a Brazil imagined in the eyes of a Portuguese at a distance. Only later is this image reversed to represent contemporary Brazil, where money and poverty flow at the same time, creating huge gaps. Suddenly the palace turns into a house similar to that of Fontainhas, and the metaphor, hidden in the beginning, becomes evident: with the approximation between the two starting points, we realize that the two are after all closer than they could imagine." (João Araújo)



The film, which had its international debut in the Forum section of the Berlinale, is a production by Curtas Metragens CRL, in co-production with Duas Mariola, which thus established a bridge between emerging structures in film production in Portugal and Brazil, in the context of a sharp crisis in Europe and film production in Portugal. 

“The Miracle of Saint Anthony” by Sergei Loznitsa:
"miracle (noun):
1. Supernatural fact opposite to the laws of Nature. 2. Portent, wonder, prodigy.
The blessing of animals that takes place every year in mid-June, in the village of Santo António de Mixões da Serra, in Gerês, a tradition according to which local farmers take their animals to the Church, seems in everything to be contrary to the laws of nature, with a religious mass dedicated to these animals. At least once, animals are also entitled to participate in the cult, side by side with the saints, and the unusual spectacle of a procession of horses being blessed is a small visual marvel. Sergei Loznitsa, an ukrainian director who alternates between documentary and fiction and often seeks a balance between the two, is one of the authors with most presences in the international competition of Curtas, and awarded in 1999 for the film “Life Autumn” and in 2001 for “Polustanok”. More interested in people and their customs than in the enunciated miracle, Loznitsa returns to explore through a curious look the possibilities of a film focused on anonymous faces, a crowd of devotees who thus gain prominence. Accompanying this ritual in a solemn way, this is a sincere portrait of how an ancestral tradition is still celebrated today, bringing the community and its animals together in the streets of this mountain village." (João Araújo)
 

This film was produced by Curtas Vila do Conde under ESTALEIRO, a continuous platform for cultural programming between 2010 and 2012, which aimed to create a hub of creativity, bringing together creators and audiences at different times. During these two years, ESTALEIRO produced several films, organized workshops and exhibitions, and provided several concerts in the city of Vila do Conde.

"Vila do Conde Extended" by Miguel Clara Vasconcelos:
"Following the exhibition of his film "O Triângulo Dourado", awarded for best film in the national Short Film Competition in 2014, Miguel Clara Vasconcelos proposed us a production whose base would be composed of found footage and amateur films in super 8 or 16mm, shot in Vila do Conde, interspersed with a fictional part filmed today. Our enthusiasm was total: for some years we had been talking about a project of research and digitalization of material with images of the city, forgotten reels of film somewhere in attics and old trunks, but still without a concrete destination. Miguel's idea was the motivation to start this project, which took the form of an artistic residency to be explored in two ways: a film, which would be called "Vila do Conde Espraiada", and an exhibition in the form of an audiovisual installation, integrated in the program of the Solar - Galeria de Arte Cinemática, and which was assembled in Centro de Memória, called "Onde o Coração Se Esconde", in a double reference to two great writers with a connection to the city, José Régio and Ruy Belo. According to the director, "the memory of Vila do Conde is also the memory of my mother. When she passed away, I had a vertigo. The time spent in that town seemed to disappear abruptly, to escape, to die in me. In the 2014 edition of Curtas, I realized that it was urgent to work on this sensitive, magical matter, which is childhood and which was for me Vila do Conde".

 
"Vila do Conde Espraiada" reappropriates these small films to, from then on, build a narrative based on the revisiting of childhood and youth memories, especially of the 1980s. It is a fictional autobiography, alternating images from the present (fiction) and the past (documentary), where the right option to shoot in 16mm strengthened the cohesion between the images. Also, the thread of the narration is quite captivating: the recording of a tape cassette, in the form of a love letter with songs in the middle, for a girlfriend who is far away. The words and the images create, in a poetic language that we already found in other works of the author, an emotional attachment that mixes the love story with the memories of dispersed events, some important, others apparently insignificant, but they are the ones that make us what we are today, and that can never be dissociated from a certain place, a certain city or landscape. In a remarkable way, the film still integrates the political commentary of a time full of convulsions, not renouncing to the point of view of a child's understanding, and improved by the use the archival footage of the political graffiti that were common at that time in all Portuguese cities. One of the happiest ideas in the film is the relation between rich and poor children (who for Miguel as a child were the "boys of the avenue" and the "boys of the wasteland", since they lived in huts that could be seen in the wasteland at the back of the garden of his house).  In addition to the political freedom recently gained, there is also an idea of lost freedom, that of childhood. It could be just an adventure on a bicycle ride beyond the road sign indicating the entrance to Vila do Conde, or an impenetrable event in a camping tent outside the city limits. Or, as the director/narrator says, "the freedom of children lies in not understanding a lot of things, not sacrificing themselves for money or suffering from love"." (Miguel Dias).  

"A River Through the Mountains" by José Magro
“No man can enter the same river twice, because when you enter again you will not find the same waters, and the man himself is no longer the same. The aphorism is Greek, but it applies to the main character of this film shot in the Chinese city of Hancheng, about a man in a process of personal discovery. This is a story about this man, very young and still looking to find love in his life, as he wanders through the rainy streets of the city as if he were roaming a river to which he would not return the same, transformed by each previous encounter. We listen to his thoughts, his memories and impressions about different feelings, about the different aspects that love can represent for him, obsessed with the idea of something he hasn't yet found. A delicate and melancholy portrait of an instant in a long sentimental journey, and even with some humor in the way it plays with some precepts of what is expected from a film about romance, always under the sway of a careful and insightful gaze. As the song we hear during the film says: “living in a kind of daydream”.” (João Araújo) 


"The Glory Of Filmmaking In Portugal" by Manuel Mozos
Starting from a historical fact at least curious - a letter that José Régio wrote to Alberto Serpa, expressing his interest in founding a production company to start making cinema -, in The Glory of Filmmaking in Portugal, Manuel Mozos rehearses a fake documentary where he reconstructs a possible involvement in film art of one of the most important Portuguese intellectuals, José Régio. With an exemplary screenplay by Eduardo Brito, the film actually materializes what could have been one of the most curious cinematographic experiences of Portuguese cinema. A historically fabled exercise, but one that, for that very reason, leaves us to navigate the possible alternative chronologies of History. (Daniel Ribas)



This film was produced by Curtas Metragens CRL, in the context of its Campus program, involving students from film schools in Porto. 

"Mahjong" by João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata:
"The ESTALEIRO project worked as a continuous platform for cultural programming between 2010 and 2012, which aimed to create a hub of creativity in Vila do Conde. During this period, ESTALEIRO produced several films, organized workshops and exhibitions, and provided several concerts in the city. The film production proposed to some directors different perspectives about the region, and the duo João Pedro Rodrigues/João Rui Guerra da Mata appropriated the Industrial Area of Varziela, in Vila do Conde. This is where the most significant Chinese community in northern Portugal resides, offering an opportunity for the authors to continue their Asian-inspired films, where "Mahjong" echoes, above all, with "A Última Vez Que Vi Macau". In both films, the initial documentary look is soon abandoning any pretensions of a realistic portrait of a space, giving way to a plot marked by the film culture of its authors, which plays with recognizable codes of film genres, especially film noir and suspense. In "Mahjong", these elements appear filtered by hypnotic delusions and by a dissonant tension that seems to want to mislead the spectator all the time. What seems to be an investigation close to crime films, gives way to a parallel reality, where mannequins take the place of human beings, where birds and flowers are made of plastic. Spectral illusions of enigmatic women and the night in that industrial desert of identical streets increase the mystery, which long sequences at the wheel of a car deepen, sometimes being reminiscent of "Vertigo". Luís Fernandes' excellent soundtrack, also with Hitchcockian echoes, underlines this metaphysical and meta-filmic search. More than looking for the cardinal points of a story where, in the good tradition of film noir, the secrets to be revealed are more relevant than the fragile convictions of the spectator, we embark on this stimulating and aesthetically dazzling narrative as in a game, joining the available elements as sets of mahjong stones.” (Miguel Dias)



“A Road As a Street" by Graça Castanheira:
Starting from Álvaro Domingues' iconic book, with the same title, this film seeks to map the concept advanced by the geographer: the idea that national roads are configured to be places of dialogue between salespeople and travelers. The range of visual resources used by these houses turns the road into a suggestive street, establishing its own aesthetic, eminently kitsch. The poetry of A Rua da Estrada is at the crossroads between a consumer culture and a homogeneous mischaracterization of the long kilometers of national roads. This film was produced by Curtas Metragens CRL, in the context of its Campus program, involving students from film schools in Porto. (Daniel Ribas)



"Starting on March 17th, in the midst of a state of emergency, the “Short Films for Long Days“ initiative, from Agência - Portuguese Short Film Agency, to which Curtas Vila do Conde later associated itself with a special program, ran until the past May 19th. In these two months, 22 films by leading authors, mostly Portuguese but also with some foreign participations, were made available online free of charge, and reached over 25 thousand views, a significant number that reflects the demand for cultural objects in a period of mandatory confinement.
At a time when we are asked to stay at home, culture asserts itself as an essential asset, whether it be literature, music or cinema, it helps to keep us connected to the world. It is a way to escape the routine in troubled times, a company to ease the passage of time and reduce distances in times of social isolation. It is vital to make this valuable recognition of culture, and in this specific case of cinema, in the form of the films that were posted online, so that everyone who was at home could have contact with a central part of Portuguese culture, which has been distinguished and awarded throughout the world. We would like to thank all those who have generously contributed their films to this initiative, always considering that a film is also the result of a common effort by a team of directors, editors, producers, scriptwriters, actors, directors and technicians of photography or sound, illustrators, colorists, translators, decorators, electricians, among others. This is a sector that constantly lives in a situation of instability and precarious labor, whose important contribution to the common well-being must be recognized and supported by all, because it is important to know that when we need culture, it is there for everyone." (João Araújo)

28th Curtas Vila do Conde Postponed

30 March 2020
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The 28th edition of Curtas Vila do Conde, initially scheduled for July 11-19, 2020, was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, selecting the 3rd to the 11th of October for its realization

The uncertainty about the situation in Portugal and Europe, in the coming months, made the festival's organization decide for its postponement, selecting the 3rd to the 11th of October for its realization. Due to this change, the news about the event's programmatic content will only be released starting in June. Even though considering the exceptional nature of this situation, the festival has ensured all the institutional and private partnerships, which have already shown their total solidarity. Curtas Vila do Conde is also in solidarity with all the other events and professionals in the cultural sector affected by this pandemic. 


These are new and extraordinary times for everyone. It is important for us to start thinking about a way back, and that is why we will continue working for a new edition of the festival, even if at a different time of the year. We hope, therefore, to accompany a new beginning that also includes a return to the cinema as a meeting place, in a festival that has always been a celebration of culture and community. However, this is a moment of unity in the fulfillment of the recommendations of Health Organizations worldwide, so that we will soon be together in a film theatre.

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.

(João Araújo) 

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