Despite a complete lack of financing and cast, driven young director Miguel Gomes is hell-bent on making a film and dives headlong into a cinematic kaleidoscope. With a camera and a small crew, Gomez travels to a remote Portuguese mountainside, where the Pardieiros music festival is under way, and begins filming the townsfolk. While the festival sets one’s eyes ablaze and toes tapping, Gomes finds a narrative slowly and sneakily emerging. Locations, songs, and characters from the documentary are recast as echoes of their former selves. Townspeople are reincarnated as members of a family band and incestuous subplots unfold. These colliding realities beg the question: Is the beginning of the film merely research for following fiction? Is truth a rehearsal for fiction here, or is it the other way around? This one-of-a-kind diptych probes the intersection of documentary and fiction filmmaking, suggesting that story and reality are echoes of one another. Ravishingly photographed and brilliantly assembled, Our Beloved Month of August is a travelogue to get lost in, an indigenous film created by tourists. It’s also a window into a fascinating filmmaking process that continues to unravel long after the credits roll.
Life isn’t always easy, my friends! In July 2006, there was a minor catastrophe. Shooting of the film, scheduled for the following month, had to be postponed indefinitely. Production funds were short for a demanding screenplay, due to be shot in Portugal’s interior during the August fiestas, and the directors casting choices.
Quickly getting over that shock, the director decided to set off for the location anyway, with a 16mm camera and a crew of five – small but feisty! – and film everything he deemed worthy of recording, committing himself to rejigging the fiction accordingly. This story and those that follow it can be found in the film, although for the sake of truth it must be acknowledged that appearances are deceptive and that certain directors have an inherent inclination towards mystification.
Documentary? Fiction? Halfway through this film there’s a bridge: the Roman bridge at Coja over the River Alva, from which Paulo “Moleiro” (Miller) hurls himself. Without wishing to sound like Confucius, I would say that from either one of the riverbanks the bridge unites, the other is perfectly visible. And the river is always the same.
Language:Portuguese, French, English (one audio track)