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Shipwrecking

Miguel Clara Vasconcelos

Portugal

synopsis

One day, our heroine Ana, a 15-year-old girl, sees in a homeless man the face of someone that she only remembers from family photo albums – the legend of her father, Tiago. Bit by bit, she and her mother (Olimpia) find their lives being invaded by this man, putting at risk the crucial financial arrangement they have with their well-to-do relatives. They hate Tiago because he had once made the family bankrupt and then abandoned them, thus making him a “persona non grata”. But Tiago is trying to make amends, before his death.

The story takes part in Vila Franca de Xira, a small town near the beautiful Tagus Delta Natural Park, not far from Lisbon. The death of Tiago deeply affects Ana, but she only recognizes her father later at the morgue. Olimpia on the other hand, who spent a lifetime waiting for Tiago’s return, ends up kicking him out of their home.

This personal tragedy is accompanied by a Legionnaires’ disease that affects the entire town. Over the course of the film there will be other participants that interact with the main characters, with improvised dialogues about real matters, allowing for the criss-crossing of fiction with reality.

intention

Teolinda Gersao is a writer from my mother’s generation, one about whom she used to speak with great admiration, both of her work and of her humanism. Her most recent book, Passages (Passagens), begins at the funeral of Ana, who is the mother of some of the characters. Despite being dead, Ana speaks: the book is composed of inner voices. I still have this kind of inner dialogue with some people and this might be the reason why the book touched me in a sensitive spot.

The narrative presented in the book gives me the opportunity, through its characters, to develop complex feelings such as redemption and regret, crystallized love or latent revolt. The difficult handling of emotional and familiar ties in this screenplay, comes across as a point of reflection on contemporary life, where reality is a time continuum that neither erases the past nor eases the future. This cinema adaptation project focuses on a specific part of the novel Passages, where the narrative is more concrete and the characters are more palpable and therefore also more vulnerable. In the conversation I had with the writer, I found out that this story was based on real events and on her relatives. This relationship with real facts reinforced my interest in adapting this part of the book. Moreover, it inspired me to bring to the film contemporary elements of Portuguese reality. While writing the script, I sought to create ruptures that would allow for improvised dialogues between non-actors about historical facts, recent events and personal experiences.

The script was written ignoring genre conventions, rather by exploring the codes of realist cinema and documentary, but also those of comedy, melodrama, biopic, police and horror films. With this dispersion of genres, I intended to “free” the viewer from the emotional orientation which I think each cinematographic genre imposes. The film proposes various interpretations and narrative paths, seeking to develop a non-linear structure, like a hypermap in the era of interactive navigation. Nevertheless, shipwreck seems always inevitable.

videos

A teen and a kick scooter; a homeless man and the greatest mystery of all: can Love surpass Death?
750-miguel-clara-vasconcelos
Miguel Clara Vasconcelos

Writer, Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Miguel Clara Vasconcelos