Q&A with Pedro Costa

This documentary-fiction hybrid was a major influence on the rebirth of Portuguese cinema, and a landmark in ethnographic filmmaking. Reis and Cordeiro spent a year in the titular region (“beyond the mountains”) in northwest Portugal, filming landscapes and villages and making friends with their peasant subjects, who offer a heady blend of folklore as much as they physically guide us through their evocative surroundings. As observed reality coincides with the persistent murmurings of myth, the flux of life and flow of stories intermingle, creating a palimpsestic merging of past and present. Jean Rouch proclaimed that Reis and Cordeiro had “revealed a new cinematographic language,” and the film is a clear predecessor to Costa’s own blend of verbal folklore with direct cinema, using form to investigate an entire country’s collective unconscious.