105-year-old Oliveira makes it to Venice again

105-year-old director Manoel de Oliveira’s latest short film, The Old Man of Belém, has been selected for the upcoming Biennale (27 August – 6 September), where it is to screen out of competition in the festival’s official selection.

Shot in Porto last April (see the news), the film brings together Spanish literary character Don Quixote, Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões, and novelists Teixeira de Pascoaes and Camilo Castelo Branco. Sitting quietly on a 21st-century park bench but carried by a telluric wave of thoughts (based on their writings), the four men will wander between past and present, glory and defeat, emptiness and alienation.

The full male cast includes Luís Miguel Cintra (Camões), Ricardo Trêpa (Don Quixote), Diogo Dória (Teixeira de Pascoaes) and Mário Barroso (Camilo Castelo Branco). The crew reunites Oliveira with his long-time collaborators such as DoP Renato Berta, sound recordist Henri Maïkoff, set decorator Christian Marti and editor Valérie Loiseleux.

“A hopeless free dive into history as we know it, like fertile sediment in Manoel de Oliveira’s memory,” as described by production outfit O Som e Fúria, The Old Man of Belém was also backed by Epicentre Films, the French producer/distributor that has launched every Oliveira film since Christopher Columbus: The Enigma. Porto City Hall and the Catholic University of Porto also supported the film, for which the local premiere is yet to be announced.

The Old Man of Belém marks Oliveira’s return to the Lido following his 2012 feature Gebo and the Shadow, which also screened out of competition.

27 July 2014, by Vitor Pinto