A feature film with four stories to celebrate the city of Guimarães (North of Portugal). Four chapters directed by film masters: from Kaurismaki to Erice, together with two totemic Portuguese filmmakers, Costa and Oliveira, made a personal draw based in the force of memory for a special occasion, the nomination of Guimarães as European Culture Capital in 2012.

Finnish auteur Kaurismäki kicks off with “Tavern Man”, a deadpan comedy about a speechless bar owner. A sweet aperitif for the following chapters. Pedro Costa’s episode, “Sweet Exorcism” is a sort of re-visiting of 1974 revolution, with a long odd dialogue into a suspended elevator: a peculiar ghost story with Dantesque basis. The Basque Victor Erice makes a moving contribution with a documentary “Broken Windows”, about veteran workers of an old, now abandoned, textile factory. Short and funny, the more than centenary Manuel de Oliveira closes with a snarky joke: “The Conqueror conquered” is a wry satire about undiscerning modern crowd: contemporary tourism. Just a suitable ending for this thought provoking collective film.

Few cities had the opportunity of being depicted by such heavy weights of European cinema. Not only for fans, thought being a work for the Cultural capital status it’s hard to find an omnibus film this coherence, gathering different styles and tones, a fairly consistent ensemble with all the directors reflecting around the same topic: memory and working class.

Javier Garcia Puerto / PÖFF

Portugal 2013