Pedro Costa

Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa

"Like Béla Tarr, Costa has a propensity for the long take and tableaux structure, a fondness for haunted, life-battered faces and desolate landscapes, and a Dostoevskian sense of life as hell. His Vanda Trilogy now joins Sátántangó as one of the most formidable works in contemporary cinema, a true arte povera epic." -James Quandt

Jack H. Skirball Screening Series

This first comprehensive retrospective in North America of work by the Portuguese filmmaker invites spectators to discover a major auteur of contemporary cinema. In the late ’90s, Costa radically reinvented digital video (reducing, rather than increasing, camera movements) and started shooting a unique mixture of documentary and fiction in the immigrant community of a Lisbon slum—culminating with the astonishing Colossal Youth, for which he amassed 320 hours of video footage over 15 months. Costa’s familiarity with his subject allows him to penetrate rarely explored spheres of human intimacy, while creating images that “seem painterly because light exists only to create space” (Film Comment).

In Person: Pedro Costa
Program curated and introduced by Thom Andersen

Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Où se cache votre sourire enfoui?)
Wed Sept 19 | 8 pm

France/Portugal, 2001, 104 min., 35mm West Coast premiere

Exploring the mysteries of cinema as practiced by the team of Jean-Marie Straub–Danièle Huillet, this film has been hailed as one of the best portraits of the filmmaking process ever made.

Preceded by 6 Bagatelas (Portugal, 2001, 18 min., Beta SP)

Bones (Ossos)
Thur Sept 20 | 8 pm

Portugal, 1997, 94 min., 35mm West Coast premiere

In this first installment of the Vanda Trilogy shot in Fontaínhas, a Lisbon slum inhabited by immigrants from Portugal’s former African colonies, Costa chronicles the desolate fate of an unwanted newborn baby.

Preceded by Ne change rien (Portugal/France, 2005, 11 min., Beta SP)

In Vanda’s Room (No Quarto da Vanda)
Fri Sept 21 | 8 pm

Portugal/Germany/Switzerland, 2000, 178 min., 35mm West Coast premiere

“As Fontaínhas is being demolished, we see Vanda and her friends smoking smack, shooting up, and talking trash. There are also moments of astonishing tenderness in which they seem even more defenseless, recalling the most mysterious encounters of the greatest fiction films.” Film Comment

O Sangue (The Blood)
Sat Sept 22 | 2 pm

Portugal, 1989, 95 min., b/w, 35mm West Coast premiere

“Shot in splendid black-and-white, this prodigious debut film, bursting with visual and narrative ideas, homages, and a desperate romanticism, is a thrilling movie for cinephiles.” James Quandt

Casa de Lava (Down to Earth)
Sat Sept 22 | 4 pm

Portugal/France/Germany, 1995, 110 min., 35mm West Coast premiere

Mariana, a nurse from Lisbon, travels to Cape Verde, at the foot of the Mount Fogo volcano, to bring back an immigrant worker in a comatose state.

Preceded by Tarrafal (Portugal, 2007, 16 min., Beta SP)

Colossal Youth (Juventude em marcha)
Sat Sept 22 | 8 pm

Portugal, 2006, 154 min., 35mm Los Angeles premiere

In this astonishing sequel to In Vanda’s Room, fictional and documentary sequences alternate, all held together by the commanding presence of Ventura, who wanders from one encounter to another and from one temporality into another -- as he embodies the aspirations of his immigrant community.

Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa was organized by Ricardo Matos Cabo in Lisbon. This program, made possible with the support of: Ministério da Cultura; Cinemateca Portuguesa–Museu do Cinema; Instituto do Cinema e Audiovisual; Instituto Camões; Lusomundo Audiovisuais; and Midas Filmes. Copresented with the Harvard Film Archive and Amherst Cinema/Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst. Program curated and introduced by Thom Andersen. Special thanks to João Bénard da Costa, John Gianvito, Mark Peranson, James Quandt and Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros.

Associated Images: 


Date/Time G ST CA

Wed 9.19.07 8:00 pm

Thur 9.20.07 8:00 pm

Fri 9.21.07 8:00 pm

Sat 9.22.07 8:00 pm













G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff