Portugal

Synopsis

Vitalina Varela, 55-year-old, Cape Verdean, arrives in Lisbon 3 days after her husband's funeral. She's been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years.

Directors Statement

Vitalina Varela spent all her life working the land in the mountains of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. She was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters and she married her first love, Joaquim, a boy from the same village, Figueira das Naus. Like most Cape Verdean young men, Joaquim left his country, in 1977, with the promise of work as a bricklayer. Like all Cape Verdean girls, Vitalina remained, waiting and longing for a happy life. With his first money saved, Joaquim buys a brick and plate shack in the neighborhood of Cova da Moura, in the suburbs of Lisbon. He writes one or two letters to Vitalina, and calls her promising a plane ticket to come join him in Portugal. In 35 years, Joaquim will only return to Cape Verde twice. During his first stay, Joaquim and Vitalina begin building a house near the chapel of their home village. During his second, as soon as he arrives, he claims he must see a cousin in the North and takes the first plane back to Lisbon. This was the last time Vitalina saw him. He never wrote or called again. Over this final visit, Vitalina became pregnant with a boy, Bruno, who Joaquim will never know. Vitalina and Joaquim already had a daughter, Jessica, born in 1996. Every other night he's seen wandering and stumbling in the dark alleyways of Cova da Moura. Rumour has it that he stabbed a fellow mason in a fight over some shady business. He misses work, his colleagues lose his trail, they knock on his door, but he never answers. He dies on 23 June 2013 and is buried on 27 June. Vitalina arrives in Portugal on the 30th. Nobody knows her in the neighbourhood, no one comforts her, everyone turns a suspicious eye. Vitalina spends countless days and nights locked in Joaquim's shack. She barely survives the pain and the nightmares. A few months pass and she manages to find one or two jobs as a cleaning lady. In a high society mansion, they fire her without pay. She's hired to clean the Zara shops in a giant mall. She gets EUR 5 an hour. One morning, there's a knock on her door: she's afraid it might be the police or the Immigration Officials. It was Pedro Costa, looking for a house to shoot a scene for the film HORSE MONEY.

Director's Biography

Born in Lisbon, Pedro Costa left his course of studies in History to attend classes taught by the poet and filmmaker António Reis at the Lisbon Film School. His first film, BLOOD, had its world premiere at the Venice FF in 1989. CASA DE LAVA, his second feature, shot in Cabo Verde, screened in Cannes' 'Un Certain Regard' in 1994. His work has been presented in cinematheques and museums around the world.

Director's Biography

2019 VITALINA VARELA 2014 HORSE MONEY 2012 SWEET EXORCIST, short in CENTRO HISTORICO 2010 OUR MAN, short 2009 NE CHANGE RIEN 2007 THE RABBIT HUNTERS, short in MEMORIES, JEONJU DIGITAL PROJECT 2007 TARRAFAL, short in THE STATE OF THE WORLD 2006 COLOSSAL YOUTH 2003 6 BAGATELAS, short 2002 WHERE DOES YOUR HIDDEN SMILE LIE? 2001 DANIÈLE HUILLET, JEANMARIE STRAUB, CINÉASTES episode of the collection CINÉASTES, DE NOTRE TEMPS 2000 IN VANDA'S ROOM 1997 BONES 1994 CASA DE LAVA 1990 BLOOD 1987 CARTAS A JULIA, short
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Pedro Costa

Written by: Vitalina Varela, Pedro Costa

Produced by: Abel Ribeiro Chaves

Cinematography: Leonardo Simões

Editing: Vítor Carvalho, João Dias

Sound: João Gazua, Hugo Leitão

Main Cast: Vitalina Varela (Vitalina Varela), Ventura (priest)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Feature Film Selection 2020