Pedro Costa

Pedro Costa

Pedro Costa is a well known Portuguese film director born in 1959. While studying history at University of Lisbon, Costa switched to film courses at School of Theatre and Cinema (Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema). After working as an assistant director to several directors such as Jorge Silva Melo and João Botelho, he made his first feature film O Sangue (The Blood) in 1989. He received the France Culture Award at 2002 Cannes International Film Festival for directing the film No Quarto da Vanda (In Vanda’s Room). His other film Juventude em Marcha (Colossal Youth) was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and earned the Independent/Experimental prize from Los Angeles Film Critics Assossiation in 2008. He is acclaimed for using his ascetic style to depict the marginalised people in desperate living situations. Many of his films are set in a district of Lisbon inhabited by the socially disadvantaged and shot in a natural and low-key way that makes them resemble documentaries.

Being a really influential and unique film director Pedro Costa has really interesting ideas about cinema, it’s purpose, director’s and viewer’s parts. Today cinema reached the point where it has great influence over viewers and it also helps to know things. So according to the director it is very important to know how to watch films. A viewer has to watch films at a distance. He doesn’t face things directly in the cinema world, he only watches, feels and experiences the reality through unreality. Sometimes in the cinema it is just as important not to see, to hide, as it is to show. Pedro Costa states that the primary function of cinema is to make the audience feel that something isn't right. In order to notice, reflect, think and question this idea the audience should notice that in the film there is a lack of something or that the things shown in the film shouldn‘t be happening. So the director of a film should understand that that cinema is an art which can make its strongest effect with the idea of absence, with the idea of cinema as an art of absence.

Like life, films are also made by the rules and orders. The rules of a film are fixed in the production script. Of course there are documentary directors who film without a script and who also capture the same human experiences. Though according to Pedro Costa the first true directors were those who synthesized the documentary and fiction in a film. So sometimes when a documentary is made to show everything, in fact it doesn't show anything, the spectators don't see anything, they are just scattered. A single gesture or glance of an actor can say a lot more about suffering, misery, or joy, than a documentary that shows everything.

So by what it was said, Pedro Costa divides films into two categories: closed door films and open door films. In the case of open door films, when a spectator sees a good film, he always sees himself in the film, he sees what he wants to see. The open door films are those like junk food – you know that it’s bad for you but it makes you want it and finally you eat it. The spectator can only see the film if something on the screen resists him. If he can recognize everything, he's going to project himself on the screen. So fiction is always a door that a spectator wants to open or not.

And finally Pedro Costa speaks about film director’s part in the cinema world. He says that being a film director is a very solitary labour, because it involves working on your own feelings. A director is also something of a scientist, because he must research of good and evil and later show the conclusion in the film. lf the right feelings wouldn‘t be put into the technology, then the technoogy won't work.

So to sum up the main ideas by the director about cinema can be explained by one his quote: „Films, the entire history of cinema, and I would even say all music, all the work that men have made in what we call the arts – this work is like the trains that go alongside life, but must never cross it.“

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