The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to welcome back João Pedro Rodrigues, together with his partner in cinema, and life, João Rui Guerra da Mata, and musician and composer Séverine Ballon, who will perform before the Monday night screening of Où en êtes-vous, João Pedro Rodrigues ?.
Directed by João Pedro Rodrigues. With Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, João Pedro Rodrigues
Portugal/France/Brazil 2016, DCP, color, 117 min. Portuguese, English, Mandarin, Mirandese, Latin with English subtitles
An enigmatic kind of extreme and polymorphous love unites the films of João Pedro Rodrigues, from the omnivorous desire that drives the restless hero of O Fantasma to the strange obsession that binds the unlikely couple in Odete and the unquenchable longing for an unobtainable romantic ideal that ultimately leads the long-suffering hero of To Die Like a Man to his tragic demise. In his eagerly awaited new film, Rodrigues explores a different kind of love through the fable of an ornithologist whose hunt for a rare species turns suddenly into a strange voyage of self-discovery and spiritual awakening. Although based loosely on the life and legend of Saint Anthony—who occupies a special place in Portuguese religion and popular culture—The Ornithologist invents a playfully blasphemous approach in which the saint’s life is a search for a decidedly unconventional devotion that refuses to separate the carnal and the spiritual. Leaving far behind the Lisbon intimately explored in the earlier films, The Ornithologist takes place largely in the lush forests of Trás-os-Montes, Portugal’s most remote region and the cradle of the folkloric imagination, giving meditative place to the region’s sublime landscapes and the watchful birds whose detached gaze the film adapts at key moments. Recalling Rodrigues’ own youthful study of ornithology, his latest film deepens a nuanced autobiographical thread that runs throughout his films, giving a rich personal dimension to the film’s questioning of the role in life’s journey of destiny and devotion, whether to self or other or to one’s chosen vocation.
Directed by João Pedro Rodrigues
Portugal 2008, digital video, color, silent, 3 min
Directed by João Pedro Rodrigues
France 2016, DCP, color, 21 min. English and Portuguese with English subtitles
Commissioned by the Centre Pompidou on the occasion of their 2016 retrospective dedicated to Rodrigues, Où en êtes-vous, João Pedro Rodrigues ? is a lyrical self-portrait that offers an important and explicitly autobiographical complement to The Ornithologist. Intermingling home movie footage with solitary wanderings and memories of his early career and partnership with João Rui Guerra da Mata, Rodrigues’ new film looks back from the vantage of mid life to meditate on the people and experiences that helped shape his vision and voice. Partially shot during Rodrigues’ year as a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Où en êtes-vous, João Pedro Rodrigues ? also includes imagery shot in the Cambridge area.
Preceded by a musical performance by composer, cellist and creator of the original score for The Ornithologist, Séverine Ballon.
This event is co-sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.