Miguel Gomes | Portugal | 2013 | 26m
1975: from a village in northern Portugal, a child writes to his parents in Angola. 2011: an old man in Milan remembers his first love. 2012: a new father in Paris talks to his baby daughter. 1977: in Leipzig, a woman prepares for her wedding day. Where and when did these four poor devils begin searching for redemption? Combining voiceover and image as brilliantly as he did in Tabu (NYFF 2012), Miguel Gomes pairs suggestively edited archival material with bittersweet, wryly funny monologues that put their speakers in a surprising new light.
The King’s Body (O Corpo de Afonso)
João Pedro Rodrigues | Portugal | 2013 | 32m
Dom Afonso Henriques was Portugal’s first king, a figure whose legendary strength and much vaunted sword have been subject to considerable myth-making over the years. In this sly, playful investigation into the meaning of national identity, director João Pedro Rodrigues (To Die Like a ManDie, NYFF 2009) stages a casting session of sorts for the king’s body. A group of muscle-bound men, stripping down against a green-screen backdrop, answer questions about the fabled past and the mundane realities of their lives. The results, by turns amusing and poignant, speak volumes about Portugal in the present day.
Prologue to the Great Desaparecido
Lav Diaz | Philippines | 2013 | 31m
Andrés Bonifacio, the freedom fighter known as the father of the Philippine revolution, was executed by rival revolutionaries in 1897. His wife, Gregoria de Jesus, searched for his body in the mountains for 30 days. It was never found. The next feature by Lav Diaz — whose latest, Norte, The End of History, is also a Main Slate presentation this year — concerns Bonifacio’s controversial death. Returning to his familiar palette of rich, deep black-and-white after the blazing colors of Norte, this short film about the desperate quest of Bonifacio’s widow is both a haunting standalone work and a tantalizing preview of the film to come.