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Vitalina Varela Vitalina Varela

Pedro Costa / Portugal / 2019 / 124 min / Portuguese

Winner of the Golden Leopard at the 2019 Locarno Film Festival. The suggestive reality told by Vitalina, a 55-year-old Cape Verdean actress playing herself, is fraught with pain, its desperate sadness displayed in nocturnal images and a Caravaggio-esque chiaroscuro.

festivals, awards Locarno 2019 (Best Film, najboljša igralka/Best Actress, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention), Chicago 2019, Toronto 2019


Vitalina Varela, the Cape Verdean lead of the film, arrives to Lisbon too late to embrace the recently deceased husband she’d only seen a couple of times after he’d left for Portugal in search of a better life. All she has left is to try and rebuild the everyday life of a man she doesn’t know anymore, the memory of their future projects, which seem irrevocably stained with the blood on the pillow of the deceased. The life that should have been, that of a family finally reunited in Lisbon under a solid roof, remains in an embryonic state, like a dream interrupted by a brutal awakening.

“There are a lot of traces of the past that belong just to Cape Verdeans, to Vitalina or Ventura, in general to this community. I’m talking about people living today in oblivion, at the dark margins of society; people who get less money for their work, that are forgotten, sleep in the streets, are beaten or tortured. Cinema can protect these people, in a way avenge them for a part of this situation, just because this film is shown everywhere.” (Pedro Costa)

Pedro Costa
Born in Lisbon, in 1958, Pedro Costa attended classes taught by the poet, sculptor and filmmaker António Reis at the Lisbon Theatre and Film School. A prominent Portuguese filmmaker with an idiosyncratic aesthetic and filmmaking approach, Costa explores the relationship between strict formalism and narrative structure. His films have won several awards at prestigious European festivals.

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