TIFF 2014: Pedro Costa’s ‘Horse Money’

- Advertisement -

horseCosta’s cinema is dense and challenging, he does not allow the audience to coast along through either narrative or character charm. Horse Money in particular has a rather elusive structure, seemingly drifting through different time periods and different levels of consciousness as it tackles the failed promise of Portugal’s 1974 Carnation revolution. At the centre of the story is Ventura, the Cape Verdean lead from Colossal Youth, an ageing man faced with a society that has neglected to include him.

Shot in stunning digital, the film embraces a painterly style evoking the chiaroscuro works of Caravaggio. The film often takes on the nuance of a living painting, as Costa often embraces ‘Tableaux vivant’ aesthetics, particular in montage sequences. The darkness that surrounds the character’s is almost rapturous, an enveloping cloud that threatens to gobble them whole. There is something perverse about the meeting of world’s in this film, the contrast between the ancient and crumbling walls of older sections of Lisbon with white and modern facilities is jarring. It is as if the past were shameful, a crushing weight on the present. In North America we are often faced with the cultural problem of erasure, a need to forget or transform the past; whereas in Europe they cannot seem to escape the actions of their ancestors.

This becomes particularly difficult for immigrant populations that are at best ignored by the people who have long called this land home. Can revolution ever truly work in such an ancient land? The question is particularly pertinent to society’s outcasts, the immigrants, the impoverished and the iconoclasts. These are the people Pedro Costa is most interested in investigating and his films seem loaded with social anger. This matches the denseness of the film’s trajectory, as his style forces the audience to pay attention, as they attempt to unravel meaning and intention. Costa uses elements of slow cinema, music and poetic realism in order to grab our attention. As always, Pedro Costa’s style blends the line between reality and fiction: truth matters more than facts in Pedro Costa’s work. Its a beautiful object that has ugly things to say about who we are. Horse Money is a film that almost demands a second viewing and likely works best in context of Costa’s other work.

One of my favourite things about festivals is the ability to work and learn from incredible people. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by incredibly talented writers and filmmakers, who only richen my experiences. Festivals don’t have to be an isolated experience and I’d usually rather skip a film or two in favor of great conversation. In this particular case, I had a really incredible talk about Pedro Costa’s Horse Money with my friend and colleague Hugo Alves.

As Hugo actually lived and grew up in Portugal near Lisbon, he had some incredible insights into the detailing of Costa’s work. He was preparing an interview with Costa the next day and was looking for some direction in questioning. It was already clear that he would ask Costa about the state of the Portuguese film industry, but where to start with Horse Money? Through our discussion I learned about the film’s use of music and the importance of traditional song to the Cape Verdians in particular. Music is literally the bridge between the Cape Verdian immigrants and the Portuguese people. The film features some music from the Morna style, which was made especially famous by singer Cesária Évora. The music becomes a more powerful tool of communication between worlds than traditional language, however it has not always been such an easy relationship. For the Cape Verdians, music has always been closely tied to dance and the Portuguese catholic authorities immediately objected to what they perceived as overtly sexual movements. They banned the dances, and as a result the music was divorced from the body.

This only added more resonance to the sequence in Pedro Costa’s film, where he creates a montage of various Cape Verdians living in the hand-made Fontainhas. Structured around a powerful Morna song, the scene features numerous ‘tableaux vivants’ of Cape Verdians immobile within their decrepit environment. The scene is loaded with sadness and oppression, the people feel like outcasts – incomplete. It is an incredible moment that we come to understand the Ventura is not just one man, but a part of a larger group, and a specific generation of immigrants left at the wayside by the revolution. We understand the significance of dates, names and papers… they become proof these people existed. This only makes the struggles of receiving a visa all the more tragic, it is far more than their passage into the country but an embodiment of their existence.

10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
The cast of Married...With Children
25 Little-Known Facts about Married…With Children TV Show
Ice Cube at Straight Outta L.A. at Tribeca Film Festival in 2010
10 Best Ice Cube Movies When You Want to Watch Ice Cube
Luke Evans at the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty And The Beast held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
10 Best Luke Evans Movies (He did that?)
Football movie being filmed
The 25 Greatest Football Movies of All Time
4 Different Types of Cauliflower (Plus Health Benefits)
12 Different Types of Pecans
28 Different Types of Pineapple
20 Different Types of Limes
10 Different Types of Tow Trucks
Electric mountain bike on the trails
18 Things to Know Before Buying an Electric Bike
Side and rear view of black 2017 Audi A7
23 Things to Know Before Buying an Audi A7
Motorhome on highway going through Bryce Canyon in the USA
13 Types of RV’s (Recreational Vehicles) for All Kinds of Vacation Fun
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
16 Types of Barbells for All Types of Lifts and Workouts
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting
5 Different Types of Pulleys (Plus Examples in Daily Life)
Apple Wallet icon on iPhone
15 Things to Know Before Setting Up Apple Pay
Natural herbal vitamins.
10 of the Best Online Vitamin Stores