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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.10.15] Portugal documentary arthouse

For the past 25 years, director Pedro Costa has been making important, transcending films and though he's been the toast of many a European festival for years, the past decade as seen his work really start to gain attention with North American audiences. Admittedly, that work isn't for everyone.

Costa's style is an acquired taste. His work is largely characterized by his use of non-actors, many of whom he discovered in Lisbon's now-demolished shantytown known as Fontinhas (or Fontainhas in English), non-linear storytelling and a visual style reminiscent of Bela Tarr – that is to say, purposefully, and sometimes painfully, slow. It may sound like a criticism but the truth is that I always feel like I've had a transcendent experience after seeing a Costa film. They occupy a place somewhere between dream (or nightmare) and reality and there's a sense of being jolted back into the real world once the credits start to roll. He is a master of mood as is clearly apparent in his latest Horse Money.

Starring his old standby Ventura, this new project is categorized as a documentary, a mix of Ventura's current struggles in Lisbon mixed with his memories of the Carnation Revolution of 1974 in which the fascist regime was toppled with little violence.

My feelings on Costa's movies are mixed – I'm not a huge fan of all of his work – but his Fontinhas trilogy is a masterpiece that captures the immigrant experience as well as poverty in general in a way that transcends language and culture.

His latest, Horse Money opens in New York on July 24.

Via Indie Wire

Recommended Release: Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa

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