The transcendent debut from Portuguese director Catarina Vasconcelos partly looks back at how Beatriz meets Henrique, and subsequently marry on Beatriz’s 21st birthday. Henrique is often away, serving as a naval officer, while Beatriz raises their six children, until one day she unexpectedly dies. Their son Jacinto, father of Vasconcelos, recounts fantasies of becoming a bird.

Much like her father, Catarina lost her mother at 17, and this documentary is a personal story of reconnection and, ultimately, asserting that parting is a prerequisite for a new beginning. Through the remembrance of these lost mothers, father and daughter mourn whilst discussing, in a poetic narrative, an emergence from their grief. 

Filmed in a retelling of past accounts, more so than a straight documentary, this elegant film essay is a deeply poetic and semi-imagined family history. A geographically separated love story between Vasconcelos’ grandparents, her birth and relationship with her own parents are told in fictional letters, metaphoric actions charged with sensuality and emotion, and a litter of nature photography. There is a curious and purposeful focus on only this family unit which is visually striking, featuring detailed interiors, interesting photography, and detailed reenactments shot beautifully on 16mm film. Through meticulous images, there is a deeply resonant metaphoric presence of birds, through Jacinto’s childhood fixations to the family maid in surreal sequences.

The film offers a distinctly female perspective on family and the outside world, also offering political sentiment on Portugal’s involvement in colonial Angola through Henrique’s past travels as a naval officer. Vasconcelos has created a musically unorthodox allusion of cultural heritage that bends art and literature inwards through this simple yet magic introspection. A nurturing tribute to her lineage and a delicately assembled collection of stories about shifting human life cycles.



CAST: Catarina Vasconcelos, Manuel Rosa, João Móra, Ana Vasconcelos, Henrique Vasconcelos, Inês Melo Campos

DIRECTOR: Catarina Vasconcelos

SYNOPSIS: A hybrid of documentary and reimagining of family past, the debut feature from Catarina Vasconcelos looks at lineage and family relationships in poetic and metaphoric fashion.