Rotterdam 2015: ‘João Bénard da Costa—Others Will Love the Things I Loved’ defies conventional criticism
João Bénard da Costa (1935-2009) was the director of the Portuguese Film Museum in Lisbon for 18 years, and he is responsible for what it is today. He was also a writer, poet, critic and actor. The biographical documentary about his life and work made by his fellow countryman Manuel Mozos is one of those films that defies film criticism in its conventional form. If film criticism is deficient in general for trying to speak about a medium that entails several tracks—image, dialogue, music and so on—by using a single-track medium, i.e., words, then the conventional form of film criticism can be deficient, as it is in this specific case. The history of da Costa’s life work is what it is, however poetically presented it may be—it is literally a collection of the things he loved, presented for others to love (or not): the texts he has written, parts of movies he preferred seeing, poems, paintings, photographs and so on. The director takes on the role of a curator in the collection of da Costa’s artistic and intellectual legacy, allowing us to make out the silhouette of the man himself only through the rich collection of his life work.