Jorge de Sena was forced to leave his country. First he moved to Brazil, and later to the USA. He never returned to Portugal. During his 20-year-long exile, he kept an epistolary correspondence with Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. These letters are a testimony of the profound friendship between the two poets, letters of longing and of desire to “fill years of distance with hours of conversation”. Through excerpts and verses, a dialog is established, revealing their divergent opinions but mostly their strong bond, and their efforts to preserve it until their last breaths.
Giorgia del Don for cineuropa wrote:
As Rita Azevedo Gomes herself explains, the film was born out of an encounter, her encounter with the letters of Jorge de Sena, which were first published in 2005. They awoke painful memories shrouded in mystery within the writer, memories of a little girl who was unable to make sense of a phenomenon, fascism, which seemed to undermine all conversations between adults. To her, the regime was something mysterious and secret, a threatening and fleeting shadow that embodied her childhood.
At the same time, the letters between Jorge de Sena and Sophie de Mello Breyner Anderen are highly current. They’re like a voice from the past denouncing a reality that’s frighteningly close, the sense of apprehension and uprooting that is an integral part of our everyday lives. “Portugal (a synonym for ‘mother country’) is no longer my haven”, says the poet, a line that sounds so familiar to our ears it’s almost unreal, mundanely cruel. The bridge between the past and the present, and between what we could define as ‘home’ and the reality we live in, is represented by the friends of the director, who are filmed while they paint, stare intently at their computer screens, or play music. It’s as if the words of the two poets were the surprisingly fluid soundtrack of their everyday lives, as if time had never passed.
How can you give a voice to poetry? How can you establish a dialogue between words and images? Instead of weaving a web of cross-references that would have depleted the images to the point of destroying them, Rita Azevedo Gomes gives in to a very bold visual experiment. The images, a sort of collage made up of archive documents, living paintings and snippets of the everyday, make the words palpable without duplicating them. Correspondences plays with a multitude of textures, sensations, on a multisensory plane born from the mind of a director who trusts her instincts. As Rita Azevedo Gomes herself says, the driving force behind her work was the need for freedom and above all pleasure, two sensations that come across in the film and give cause to hope that none of us will ever give up hope no matter what. A leap into the past that helps us to better understand the present, a present that is certainly frightening, but one with which we must come to terms, as quickly as we possibly can.
Jorge Mourinha for Notebook wrote:
(…)a leisurely essay film about the ability of poetry and writing to capture moments in time and preserve them in amber for the future. Part time capsule of a historical moment in Portugal where poetry and exile seemed to be the only windows out to the world, part scrapbook of the director’s own life and experiences. That both these highly idiosyncratic films found their way into Locarno’s main strand is not only a tribute to the festival’s constant lookout for engaging, vital cinema; it’s also a possible starting point for a competition where all of my favorite films were slow-burners unfolding at leisurely paces, inviting the viewer to go on momentous journeys.
Language(s):Portuguese, English, French, Italian, Greek