Almost 100 years later, Fernando Pessoa’s first film will open next week

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Fernando Pessoa is obviously one of the most respected and well-known authors of the Portuguese language. However, the artist (only 47 years old), who died in 1935, had other interests related to writing. He was a playwright, essayist, literary critic, political commentator, translator and publicist. And he was still doing some cinema-related experiments.

In 2011 “Fernando Pessoa – Argumentos para Filmes” was published, a collection of more or less scattered ideas with ideas for creating film stories. It was a research work by Patrício Ferrari and Cláudia J. Fischer, who studied the writer’s estate in detail, in order to create this compilation. Some of the texts were published in 2007 in the book “Courts-Métrages” by Patrick Quillier.

One of these sketches of the script was “Note for a thriller or film”, which has now been concretized by the director and screenwriter Pedro Varela (“Esperança”, “Os Filhos do Rock”) at the suggestion of Agência Uzina for Samsung – that’s because the film was shot entirely with the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G mobile phone.

The result is “O Ídolo”, a short film that lasts between 15 and 20 minutes and opens on the brand’s website next Wednesday May 12th – although Pedro Varela tells NiT that the film may be free in some cinemas is to be seen as an incentive to lure the audience back to the screen. In addition, the focus is also on the internationalization of short films – the strategy is to make a “world premiere” online.

“Pessoa left several ideas for films, they are one-sided ideas. It’s like the friend you meet who says he has an idea for a movie. And then start counting. And then you have to do everything because he only gives you the idea, ”explains Pedro Varela NiT.

“And by that time Pessoa was already heavily influenced by Hitchcock’s cinema, which premiered the first film in 1927. He had a huge impact on cinema. Although it was the height of German Expressionism and there was already a certain auteur cinema such as “Metropolis”, his attention was focused on a very noticeable commercial cinema. He immediately began to think about series production, he was already envisioning an industry! They were really ahead, had a vision, and this film he’s leaving us comes on that scale. He already suggested a genre to us and he had the idea of ​​opening a production company in Lisbon, ”he adds.

“When I grab the page and a half where he gives us the idea, my greatest challenge and my great honor is being able to continue an idea from Pessoa. And this is a unique opportunity for me. Then it was to create the characters. Obviously there has been a great effort not only to enter the human universe, and there are many honors here, but there has also been research, some biographical topics, since the story takes place in the late 1920s. “

This sketch, written almost 100 years ago, shows that several people of different origins have the difficult task of transporting an invaluable artifact on board a ship that enables the transatlantic crossing between New York in the USA and Southampton in the UK. It’s the starting point of an adventure where nobody is who they seem.

“Pessoa left several ideas, all rooted on the same premise: valuable objects, the question of honor and transatlantic. We have a film about a man, Augusto Souto, who accepts the challenge of a millionaire to bring an object of great value to this journey, where everyone will and will do everything to get this object. And it’s a very modern story, he was already brutally addressing the problems of the ego. We live in a world where the ego dominates and controls and surrounds us. And he was already talking about this great vanity of men. It’s a film about, about narcissism, about wanting power and our society lives from it. Instead of worrying that the value might be oxygen and clean water in the ocean, we worry that our car is top notch, that the watch … not all but a large part of society. And he wanted to see it a lot. “

Pedro Varela says he was committed to making the film the way Pessoa envisioned it – as much as possible, of course. “In other words, it’s in the late 1920s – we could have adapted the idea for today by taking a trip that was a dream, but no, it’s really a movie that is set at that time and this one Has elements. And that’s in the clothes, in the landscape, in the brilliant soundtrack by João Bruno Soeiro. ”

Pedro Varela is 46 years old.

The director explains that what he likes most about his work is when he is in front of the blank sheet, the “fertile emptiness” as he describes it. “Here I had brutal help and was able to share an empty room and a moment of silence with Fernando Pessoa. And what did I start to do? I read, read, reread enough and then characters show up and I start to understand the pragmatic choices I can make as a director. Pedro Varela wanted to bring Pessoa’s ideas in English – because the author “only thought about English in English, because they were his references” – with the Portuguese language of which he was one of the greatest ambassadors.

The question of recording a movie with a cell phone was seen as an exciting challenge. “Because there was the challenge of editing a narrative on a device the size of a phone, and I’m attentive to people filming with new devices. Like Steven Soderbergh, for example [‘High Flying Bird’];; like the “mandarine” [de Sean Baker]who was at Sundance; or Damien Chazelle [‘The Stunt Double’]. ”

“It was movie theater people who made films on a phone. And it was fun to see a team of 40 people around a phone. We had trucks, generators, projectors, makeup, and trailers, and then we were all limited to something in the backpack the size of the palm of your hand. “Although Pedro Varela cannot compare to professional cameras, he says that he“ behaved wonderfully ”. “When you have a phone that technologically does what we need, all we have to do is put talent in front of the lens. To make a movie, it takes teams, art direction, script, cloakroom, everything and more. And it’s the old story: it’s not because there are cameras like this that everyone will make great movies. Pen and paper have been around for many years, and not everyone writes a great book. “

The cast includes names such as Tiago Felizardo, Soraia Tavares, Ana Vilela da Costa and Paula Magalhães. The shooting took place about a month ago for six days between Viana do Castelo, Serra de Sintra and Lisbon – the project was presented to Pedro Varela (who worked with the production company Blanche Films) at the end of last year.

The director describes “O Ídolo” as “a fifth of a great production” and, while emphasizing that nothing is planned, leaves the door open to give the project a longer lifespan. “I know this is a project that can travel anywhere and grow. People just previewed it and it was “Why isn’t this a show?” It has more than just legs, for example to be a feature film or a series. Who gives us these idiots is the public, the producers and the press. I had never done such hard work back then, obviously it’s intensified work on many issues, but then it’s an indescribable joy to bring things to life and see them as a piece of the past. That’s very sweet. “

The recordings took place this year.