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Looking Back: a glance under Take One! Competition

27 July 2020
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The Take One! Competition, created in 2005, appears with the aim of focusing attention on the best that was being done in Portugal in terms of school films, thus creating a platform that would function as a showcase for new talents emerging in national cinema, emerging in film schools. Even though since 1997 Curtas awarded the Young Portuguese Filmmaker Prize, with this new competition the idea was to take the focus on new directors and first works even further, creating a space where they could be exhibited and valued. It would also be a way to affirm the success of national cinema revealed by Geração Curtas and the format as an essential tool for new directors, whose affirmation would not be the result of chance but of a comprehensive and continuous work, not be something temporary but something that was here to stay. The sessions of this competition are some of the most popular and with a unique aura, as they give the chance to see the enthusiasm of those who present their work for the first time in a theater, since most of the new directors are present at this opportunity.

The story goes that if Geração Curtas would correspond to a greater internationalization and recognition of Portuguese authors abroad, never the national cinema, and in particular its new authors, reached a level as high as in the most recent years, winning unprecedented awards in important film festivals and on an ongoing basis: for example, between 2012 and 2017, at the Berlin Festival, three Portuguese films received the highest prize for short films. In fact, few similar initiatives can boast of showing firsthand the works of directors who would later be awarded the prestigious prizes of the Cannes and Berlin festivals, such as the cases of João Salaviza and Leonor Teles. Winner of 2005’s Take One! with the film “Duas Pessoas”, João Salaviza is perhaps the most notable name among those who have passed through this competition, a director who from an early age impressed by the maturity and assertiveness of his vision, combining social concerns with an refined and sophisticated visual style, collecting an enviable curriculum along the way: winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Short Films in 2009 with “Arena” and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival with “Rafa” in 2012, “Montanha” - his first feature film - premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. Leonor Teles, winner of Take One! in 2013, with “Rhoma Acans”, in 2016 would repeat the Portuguese feat of winning the main prize of the Berlin Festival for short films with “Batrachian's Ballad”, two works that revealed a style as irreverent as confident, interested in the issue of identity, looking at both the past and the future. She is currently one of the greatest promises of national cinema - her first feature film premiered at Cinéma du Réel and her most recent work was selected for the Venice Film Festival.
Another name that has been consolidating a remarkable curriculum, with several awards and presence in the most important film festivals is Salomé Lamas. A filmmaker who works in an innovative way the frontier between formats such as documentary, experimental and fiction, while constantly reinventing her cinema, she has had distinctions in important festivals such as FID Marseille, Visions du Réel, DocumentaMadrid and DocLisboa - her first feature film “No Man’s Land” premiered at the Berlin Festival in 2013. With several appearances both in the national competition and in the experimental competition of Curtas, she debuted at the festival precisely in the Take One competition! in 2009, with her film “Swan Girl's Palimpsest Or It Rained During Two Days And The Landscape Has Changed”. Author of some of the most original works of recent Portuguese cinema, Jorge Jácome, after a presence at Take One! in 2010 with "Deixa Cair a Noite", has been asserting himself as someone to watch carefully: present at the Berlin Festival with his latest film, "Past Perfect", which was awarded the Short Film Grand Prize of the 2019 edition of IndieLisboa and nominated for the European Film Awards, and his previous film “Flowers”, also winner at IndieLisboa (New Talent), was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mariana Gaivão is one of the most notorious recent cases of a filmmaker going from Take One! to the Portuguese Competition of Curtas, and someone who has also been creating an admirable filmography, along with a successful career in film festivals. The director participated in the 2007 edition with her school film “Sitiados”, to later be selected for the Portuguese Competition in 2012 (“Solo”), 2014 (“First Light”) and in 2019 she was distinguished with the prize for Best Director in Curtas, with her beautiful and hypnotic “Ruby”, a film about the end of summer and childhood, which premiered at the prestigious Rotterdam festival. Sofia Bost has also had a remarkable journey: in 2015 she made her debut at Take One! with her school film “Swallows”, and in 2019, her first film - but already with an assured and complex vision - “Party Day” premiered at the prestigious Semaine de la Critique in Cannes - the short film was also shown on the program of the Portuguese Competition of Curtas.

With a double participation at Take One!, in 2006 with “Quinta da Curraleira” and 2008 with “desPolido + desPolido ii”, Tiago Hespanha is one of the most interesting and daring Portuguese authors to explore the possibilities of the documentary genre - his most recent feature film “Campo” was shown at Cinéma du Réel and awarded in Locarno. “Anteu”, João Vladimiro's most recent film, was probably one of the most original and most well received (and discussed) works at the 2018 National Short Film Competition, adding selections for the Rotterdam Festival and the New York Film Festival, while displaying the singular vision of its director, who debuted on Take One! in 2006 with “Pé na Terra”. The duo Vasco Sá and David Doutel, who have established themselves as one of the most important working in animation cinema in Portugal, and who have been collecting important awards throughout their career, debuted in 2008 at Take One! with “Obtuso” (co-directed with André English), to later participate in the Portuguese Competition with “Soot” (2014), for which they were distinguished with the prize for Best Directing and the Audience Award, and “Augur” (2018 ).

There are several examples of new talents from Portuguese cinema, who had a recent passage at Take One! and now we can accompany them at different stages of confirmation of their potential: Pedro Peralta, who was awarded an Honorable Mention during his participation at Take One! in 2012, with “Mupepy Munatim”, is another case of a filmmaker who would later gain international recognition: his impressive short film “Ascension” was chosen for the Semaine de la Critique of the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, and then awarded at Indielisboa. Also awarded an Honorable Mention at Take One! in 2015 with “Sala Vazia”, Afonso Mota was later awarded at Indielisboa in 2019 for “Phantom Power”; Diogo Baldaia participated in 2014 with “Figure”, would later be the winner of the Portuguese Competition of IndieLisboa 2017 and selected for the Portuguese Competition of Curtas in 2019; they are names to follow closely, like the most recently awarded at Take One!: authors as Duarte Coimbra, winner in 2018 with “Amor, Avenidas Novas”, a dazzling film that was distinguished with the New Talent Prize at IndieLisboa 2018 and screened at the Semaine de la Critique of the Festival de Cannes; Inês Vila Cova, awarded in 2017 with the film “De Gente Se Fez História”, made from a collection of amateur footage from VHS archives, a film against forgetfulness, made from family records and affections that are also the history of a community, Caxinas; and in 2019, Tomás Paula Marques, with the film “Em Caso de Fogo”, an emotional and sensitive drama about a lonely protagonist who just wants to “pretend nothing has happened and continue to dance” - these will certainly be names to follow in the near future and that is the mission of Take One!, not only to offer the opportunity to discover new talents but also a window into the future of Portuguese cinema.
(João Araújo)