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National premieres in the films in competition at the Melgaço International Documentary Festival

MDOC Melgaço from 29 July to 4 August

Immigration, clandestinity, colonialism, human rights and environment are some of the central themes addressed in the nine Portuguese films to be part of the competition of the 10th edition of MDOC, including the award-winning animated short film at the Annecy Festival, “Percebes” by Alexandra Ramires and Laura Gonçalves, and “A Savana e a Montanha” by Paulo Carneiro, who was at the fortnight of the filmmakers in Cannes and has a national premiere at the Minhoto festival.

Between July 29 and August 4, Melgaço is again the centre of international social and ethnographic documentary cinema. Three of the nine films that make up the selection of Portuguese documentaries in the competition are national premieres.

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“A Savana e a Montanha” de Paulo Carneiro

A Savana e a Montanha, the third feature film by Paulo Carneiro, is one of the awaited novelties on the big screen. The film was at the Fortnight of the Filmmakers, a parallel show of the Cannes Film Festival 2024, and debuted on Portuguese soil at MDOC. The film depicts the struggle of the inhabitants of Covas de Barroso (municipality of Boticas) against a British multinational – Savannah Ressources – which intends to build the largest open-air lithium mine in Europe a few meters from the land and houses of the village. A documentary of resistance that amplifies – with elements of the Western genre and some fantasy – the struggle, creativity and resistance of the local community.

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Alexandra Ramires e Laura Gonçalves

Another novelty that integrates the ranks of national films competing in the Festival is “Percebes” by Alexandra Ramires and Laura Gonçalves. The animated documentary in watercolour and digital, which won the Crystal Award for Best Short Film of the Animation Film Festival of Annecy, France, portrays the cycle of life and the catch of this crustacean in the Algarve. The theme also serves as a criticism of mass tourism, the disorder of the territory and the relationship of local inhabitants with water and air.

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“Tão pequeninas, tinham o ar de serem já crescidas” de Tânia Dinis,

These two films are joined by seven documentaries candidates for the Jean-Loup Passek and D. Quixote awards (awarded by the International Federation of Film Clubs): by João Gomes, “Couto Mixto”, plus a national premiere, about the magic of a place, an independent state of hybrid Galician and Portuguese identity; of Tânia Dinis, “Tão pequeninas, tinham o ar de serem já crescidas”, a fictional and documentary account of several women who, between the 40s and 70s, came to Porto to work as servants to serve; by Raquel Loureiro Marques arrives, in national premiere, Um mergulho em água fria on images that shaped the director’s family imaginary.

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“As Melusinas à margem do rio” de Melanie Pereira

At MDOC, Catarina Laranjeiro and Daniel Barroca’s Fogo no Lodo are also competing, a film that portrays the colonial war between the Balanta known as “those who resist” (people with a strong tradition of resistance to Portuguese colonialism); As Melusinas à margem do rio of Melanie Pereira, a conversation/reflection with four women about their uncertain and fragmented identities – what is to be immigrant without being, and to be Luxembourgish without being; ClandestinaMaria Mire shows a dip in the past and in the experience of Margarida Tengarrinha who goes underground in Portugal and becomes a forger for political activism. Agnes Meng competes with the film “Histórias de Contrabandistas” a journey through the memories of the border village of Tourém where difficult lives, unforgettable adventures and stories about the “smugglers’ nest” were crossed.

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“Histórias de Contrabandistas” de Agnes Meng

The 2024 edition of MDOC has the usual X-RAYDOC section, dedicated to film analysis “whose importance is indisputable for a History of Documentary in which the relationship with the other in context is revealed as a structuring element”, coordinated by Jorge Campos, journalist, filmmaker and cultural programmer. This will be joined by the journalist from Público, Sérgio C. Andrade, for a conversation-debate around “Goodbye, Until My Return” (Portugal, 1974, 70′), the documentary made for television in December 1974, by António-Pedro Vasconcelos. The X-RAYDOC will take place on August 3, at 10:00 am, at the House of Culture of Melgaço. In the same space and at the same time, but a day before, on August 2, Masterclass takes place on cinema as a place of dispute of memory and visual and sound potentialities, with José Filipe Costa, director of several short films and documentaries, among which Prazer, Comrades! (2019) Red Line (2011), Entre Muros (2002) and Senhorinha (1999).


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