Press Release 17 October 2022 – Country Focus: Connecting the Dots Between Portugal’s Cinema Legacy and the Contemporary Filmmaking of a New Generation

In addition to exploring various periods in Portuguese society and politics, the Country Focus Portugal at exground filmfest 35 also provides a representative look at the small country’s geographic diversity. The Country Focus connects the dots between Portugal’s recent history and the present moment, while examining what the coming years have in store for the world of Portuguese filmmaking. The ten fiction-features and documentaries included here, accompanied by a further 14 short films, tackle a range of topics, including social inequality, emigration, unemployment, (queer) friendship and love and the challenging of rules and norms.

The Country Focus is made possible once again with the generous support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain. This year, there will also once again be additional post-festival screenings at venues around the Rhine-Main region, hosted by REX in Darmstadt, Pupille-Kino on the University of Frankfurt campus and Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum.

With ALMA VIVA (2022), the exground filmfest program not only features director Cristèle Alves Meira’s feature-film debut – it is also proud to present Portugal’s entry for Best International Film at the upcoming Academy Awards. Set in Portugal’s mountainous northern region, the film depicts the special connection between young Salomé and her grandmother, who instructs her granddaughter step-by-step, every summer, in the techniques of spiritual conjuring. Alas, at some point the presence of the old woman’s ghostly legacy proves to be divisive within the family. WOLF AND DOG (2022) is set on the Azores, in São Miguel: here Ana and Luis learn to live out their queer identities and the complexity of their desire in the confines of an island community shaped by Christianity. With a vital, semi-documentary touch, the film moves within the local community and demonstrates that cultures and traditions, far from being monolithic, are instead quite hybrid and fluid. JACK’S RIDE (2021) tells a tale of emigration and return to today’s Portugal after decades abroad: on the verge of retirement, Joaquim is obliged by the employment office to make the rounds looking for jobs, to prove that no one wants to hire him anymore. On his strolls through sun-drenched Lisbon, the humorous man possessed with an inner calm reminisces about his days as a taxi and limousine driver in New York City. Revelling in experimentation, the documentary film SUPER NATURAL (2022) is remarkable for its continually evolving form and atmosphere. In collaboration with an inclusive dance troupe and Madeira’s Teatro Praga, filmmaker Jorge Jácome has created a vibrant, colourful spectacle revolving around the search for the supernatural.

Retrospective: Teresa Villaverde
With four fiction features and a short film, our homage to renowned filmmaker Teresa Villaverde offers insight into a creative career spanning three decades. With her debut ALEX (A IDADE MAIOR, 1991), featuring cinematography by DoP Elfi Mikesch, Villaverde tells the story of a boy whose father remains emotionally absent following his return from a colonial war. THE MUTANTS (OS MUTANTES, 1998) (1998) also deals with adolescents growing up in dysfunctional family situations. This drama, remarkable among other things for its dynamic camerawork and extraordinary formal language, features intensive scenes of rebellious youths on the streets of Lisbon, as they move aimlessly between freedom, desperation and vulnerability. 

Short Films in the Focus Program: Absent Parents and Experimental Forms from Female Filmmakers
As a fitting accompaniment to Villaverde’s debut film, in the ABSENT PARENTS series exground filmfest is presenting five short films that deal with mentally or physically absent parents and children coping with their lack of presence. A second short film program features experimental works by female filmmakers searching for new forms of expression and approaches to narrative, leading them among other places to a marvellous world of amalgamation, where animation, sound collages and colourful fragments collide.

Supporting Program for Focus Portugal
In addition to the exciting film selection, the Country Focus at exground filmfest 35 is accompanied by a rich supporting program. In the scope of a panel on Portuguese cinema, filmmakers and festival organisers will be discussing current trends and developments in the country’s film scene and the potential to be discovered in interdisciplinary approaches.

A reading from the German translation of Alfonso Reis Cabral’s novel “Pão de Açúcar” (“Aber Wir Lieben Dich”) will take place at Wiesbaden’s Literaturhaus Villa Clementine. The young author relates the true story of unhoused transwoman Gisberta, who is forced to the margins of society after an initial taste of success and now seeks shelter at an abandoned construction site in Porto.

In the supporting program, exground filmfest also grapples with Portugal’s colonial past. Partnering with Amnesty International, there will be a lecture treating the current political situation in Angola, following the elections of August 2022. In addition, one of the two exhibitions included in the Country Focus program also deals with this former Portuguese colony: Mónica de Miranda’s video exhibition PATH TO THE STARS at Nassauischer Kunstverein examines the stories of invisible “stars” – particularly women – who fought for Angolan independence and today struggle to gain recognition. The photo exhibition A TALE OF TWO CITIES, presented at Murnau-Filmtheater, explores socio-political issues of central importance in today’s Portugal. With a selection of images from his two series New Lisbon and How Portugal Won the War on Drugs, documentary photographer Gonçalo Fonseca illuminates Portuguese realities in connection with gentrification, the housing crisis and progressive drug policies.

The complete festival program will be revealed following the press conference (27 October, 11 a.m., Caligari FilmBühne) and will be available at

You can download a flyer featuring extensive program details for the Country Focus Portugal here.

exground filmfest would like to thank all its supporters and co-operation partners!

For press accreditation at exground filmfest 35, please feel free to contact us – we will be happy to send you our accreditation form!

End of press release

Press contact:
Wiesbadener Kinofestival e. V.
exground filmfest
Marina Andrée