Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France


A temperamental old woman, her Cape Verdean maid and a neighbour devoted to social causes live on the same floor of a Lisbon apartment building. When the old lady dies, the other two learn of an episode from her past: a tale of love and crime set in an Africa straight from the world of adventure films.

Director's Statement

TABU is a film about the passage of time, about things that disappear and can only exist as memory, phantasmagoria, imagery − or as cinema, which summons and congregates all that. There is a massive ellipsis in the film, we go back fifty years. We go from the time of old age to youth, from the time of hangover and guilt to the time of excesses, from a post-colonial society to the time of colonialism. It’s a film about things that are extinguished: a person who dies, an extinguished society, a time that can only exist in the memory of those who lived it. We also wanted to connect this to an extinct cinema. We chose to shoot the film in black and white, which is also on the verge of extinction − 35mm for the contemporary section, 16mm for the African section. I’m sometimes asked why the first part is not in colour, according to the (somewhat absurd) convention that the past is in black and white and the present in colour. If the second part of the film fits what is conventionally known as a ‘period piece’, I’m not sure the first part isn’t as much of a ‘period piece’ ...

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Miguel Gomes

Written by: Miguel Gomes, Mariana Ricardo

Produced by: Luís Urbano, Sandro Aguilar

Cinematography: Rui Poças

Editing: Telmo Churro, Miguel Gomes

Original Score: Vasco Pimentel

Cast: Laura Soveral (yount Aurora), Ana Moreira (Gian Luca Ventura), Henrique Esírito Santo (young Gian Luca Ventura), Teresa Madruga (Pilar), Thom Straumann (Aurora)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2012