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September 28 - 30

Colossal Works: The Films of Pedro Costa

Perhaps a complete retrospective - six features and three shorts - seems premature for a director you probably haven’t heard of, but after the unanticipated success of his latest feature Colossal Youth at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Pedro Costa has come to be recognized as one of the world’s great film-makers. His obsessive theme is the lives of the poor migrants who live in the slums of Lisbon, many of them immigrants from Cape Verde. Costa’s films transcend others on similar subjects because of his rigor, his knowledge of classical cinema (it seems to be in his blood), the amazing beauty of the images and the precision of the cutting, the unprecedented intimacy of his portraits, his extreme patience (twelve months of shooting for In Vanda’s Room, fifteen months for Colossal Youth), and his willingness to take risks that can leave viewers baffled or fascinated or both. For those who get past the initial difficulties, his films can inspire an obsessive devotion. – Thom Andersen, California Institute of the Arts

This program is co-presented with the California Institute of the Arts and the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater. Special thanks to Manuela Bairos, Consul General of Portugal, Global Outsight LLC,
Attention Span Media LLC, Ricardo Matos Cabo and Brad Epps. All prints courtesy of the filmmaker.


Friday September 28 at 5:30 pm

Reception for the Artist

Please join us for a public reception welcoming Pedro Costa. The reception will take place in the Sert Gallery, located on the 3rd floor of the Carpenter Center.


Special Event Tickets $10
Friday September 28 at 7 pm

Casa de Lava

Directed by Pedro Costa, Appearing in Person
With Inês de Medeiros, Isaach De Bankolé, Edith Scob
Portugal/France/Germany 1995, 35mm, color, 110 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

As a volcano restlessly stirs on the Cape Verdean island of Fogo, a young Portuguese nurse agrees to transport an injured migrant worker home from Lisbon and deliver medical supplies to battle a cholera epidemic on the island. A work of rare beauty and poise, Casa de Lava is the first feature in which Costa focused on the people of Cape Verde who would populate most of his subsequent feature films.

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Special Event Tickets $10
Friday September 28 at 9:30 pm

Ne Change Rien

Directed by Pedro Costa, Appearing in Person
With Jeanne Balibar
Portugal/France 2005, video, color, 13 min.
French with English subtitles

A trio of musical performances transports an actress (Balibar) from her dressing room to center stage.

The Blood (O Sangue)

Directed by Pedro Costa, Appearing in Person
With Pedro Hestnes, Nuno Ferreira, Inês de Medeiros
Portugal 1989, 35mm, b/w, 95 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

Costa's auspicious debut demonstrates his love and knowledge of classical Hollywood and European art cinema. With echoes of Nicholas Ray, Robert Bresson and F.W. Murnau, Costa explores the plight of two brothers and a young kindergarten teacher being pursued by some unseemly characters, including the boys' nefarious uncle. Unlike his later neorealist works, The Blood is a lushly stylized romantic fable.

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Special Event Tickets $10
Saturday September 29 at 5 pm

Bones (Ossos)

Directed by Pedro Costa, Appearing in Person
With Vanda Duarte, Nuno Vas, Maria Lipkina
Portugal/France/Denmark 1997, 35mm, color, 94 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

The first in a trilogy of films which explores life in the shantytown of Las Fontainhas, Bones tackles the hardship of teenage pregnancy in this impoverished setting. A young mother struggles with her new responsibilities while the baby's equally naïve father exploits the child as a prop in order to beg for money on the streets of Lisbon. The film is noted for the introduction of Costa's muse, Vanda Duarte, who provides one of its brighter notes as the young mother's confidant.


Special Event Tickets $10
Saturday September 29 at 8 pm

In Vanda’s Room

Directed by Pedro Costa, Appearing in Person
With Vanda Duarte, Lena Duarte
Portugal/Germany/Italy/Switzerland 2000, 35mm, color, 178 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

Vanda Duarte plays herself in the second film in the Fontainhas trilogy. She stars with her sister Lena, portraying two drug-addicted women who spend their days smoking crack while their building is being demolished. Despite the harsh circumstances, Costa manages to infuse the film with humor and humanity as he watches the young women bicker with their mother about housekeeping.

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Sunday September 30 at 3 pm

Sicilia!

Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet
With Gianni Buscarino, Angela Nugara.
France 1999, 35mm, b/w, 66 min.
Italian with English subtitles

In their adaptation of Elio Vittorini's Conversazione in Sicilia, a politically charged novel banned by the Fascists in 1942, Jean-Marie Straub and the late Danièle Huillet focus on a series of dialogues between Vittorini's protagonist, an intellectual returning to his native Sicily after an extended absence, and the strangers, fellow train passengers, and former friends and family members he encounters.

6 Bagatellas

Directed by Pedro Costa
Portugal 2001, video, color, 18 min.
French with English subtitles

A collection of six unused scenes from Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?, this short  is highlighted by the charming sight of the Straub-Huillets performing mundane tasks at home.

Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?

Directed by Pedro Costa
France/Portugal 2001, 35mm, color, 109 min.
French with English subtitles

This film portrait presents an extraordinary look into the creative process of filmmaking through a case study of longtime collaborators Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, who are carefully observed at work reediting their recent feature Sicilia! as they teach a group of students at the National Studio of Contemporary Arts in Tourcoing. Costa meticulously records the dialectic, argumentative mode the filmmakers use to reach decisions about each cut. In a remarkable sequence, the two filmmakers have a standoff in virtual darkness (Huillet having switched off the Moviola that provides much of the illumination for Costa’s shooting). Equally compelling is the documentation of Straub’s close commentary on techniques from such diverse influences as Chaplin and Eisenstein. This remarkable documentary, an episode from the landmark series “Cinema of our Time,” is a brilliant examination of the art of editing and a meditation on the aesthetic and political implications of film technique.

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Sunday September 30 at 7:30 pm

Tarrafal

Directed by Pedro Costa
Portugal 2007, 35mm, color, 16 min.

Costa returns to the island of Fogo, the homeland of Colossal Youth's Ventura, where he previously filmed Casa de Lava. He considers the Tarrafal prison where political dissidents were tortured and killed for nearly forty years.

Colossal Youth

Directed by Pedro Costa
With Ventura, Vanda Duarte, Beatriz Duarte
Portugal/France/Sweden 2006, 35mm, color, 155 min.
Portuguese with English subtitles

Costa revisits the slums of Lisbon for the final film in the Fontainhas trilogy in which he follows Ventura, a Cape Verdean laborer who moves from his home in the dilapidated quarter to a stark new low-cost housing complex. Ventura’s story expands to those around him, including Vanda Duarte who has transitioned to methadone and settled down with her husband and child. Pared down from 320 hours of raw footage, Colossal Youth was one of the most controversial films at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

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