Portuguese Auteurs, Both Named João

Posted by Erik Luers on 9.13.2013

Fancy yourself a fan of Portuguese cinema? If so, clear your schedule this week for a celebration of João Pedro Rodrigues (To Die Like a Man, NYFF '09) and João Rui Guerra da Mata. The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present a new film from the duo, as well as a selection of shorts and Q&As. As a special bonus, the two filmmakers will be in person for Q&As at select screenings.

An NYFF50 Main Slate selection in 2012, The Last Time I Saw Macao opens today for a week long run at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. Part cine-essay and part elliptical noir, the film has been graced with strong reviews from cinephiles and film critics alike. Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York raves “the movie has the power to make you laugh and the power to break your heart in half.”

Why Macao? In an interview with Slant Magazine, Rodrigues explained the film’s origins. “João Rui Guerra da Mata, my co-director, lived there as a child. He left in 1975, after the revolution in Portugal. His stories about Macao sounded like fictions, or adventures, since they were childhood memories. I knew Macao from films, pictures, and literature, as a Portuguese colony. I had a fictional idea, and the film was born from the confrontation of these two fictions: João's and mine. When I finished To Die Like a Man, we applied for money for a documentary. The Last Time started as a very low-budget film. We went to the places that João remembered. Since we had very few constraints, we'd always end up taking a different route. The city started to tell us stories. Macao is very labyrinthine; we enjoyed being lost and basically shot everything we liked. We spent six months over a period of three years and had 150 hours of material, so it was a very long process of editing; we were lost for a long time.”

From September 13 - 19, audience members at each day's 4:00pm screenings of The Last Time I Saw Macao will be given a special treat: Mahjong, a brand new, 25 minute short from the two filmmakers, will proceed the feature length film.

Speaking of short works, if you’re looking to fill in the gaps in the oeuvre of Rodrigues and Guerra da Mata, Monday evening will grant you a rare opportunity. Four will screen in the program "Beyond Macao: Shorts by João Pedro Rodrigues + João Rui Guerra da Mata," a representation of the filmmakers’ individual and collaborative efforts. China, China and Red Dawn were both co-directed projects, while Morning of Saint Anthony’s Day (Rodrigues, Views '12) and As The Flames Rose (Guerra da Matta) represent personal filmmaking with a minimum running time.

The filmmakers will also be on hand after this special event on Monday for a discussion. And if your thirst is still not quenched, get ready to attend Shorts Program 4 of the New York Film Festival on October 7, as Rodrigues’ The King’s Body will screen in a triptych program that also features Lav Diaz and fellow Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to brush up on the careers of two Portuguese masters-in-the-making!

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