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Lusophone Film Festival "Horse Money" (Cavalo Dinheiro)

Saturday, November 14, 2015
12:00 AM
State Theater, 233 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI

Directed by Pedro Costa (Portugal/Cape Verde, 2014) 104min
Introduction by Professor Fernando Arenas (University of Michigan) and Anna Mester

In “Horse Money”, Ventura — the sad-eyed Cape Verdean lead of “Colossal Youth” — is lost in startlingly abstracted and stunningly rendered indeterminacy as revolution takes place in the streets. A product of the failed promises of Portugal's 1974 Carnation Revolution — where the fight for democracy after decades of dictatorship neglected the African immigrant population of his generation — Ventura is increasingly held captive by his madness and the "nervous disease" that causes his constant trembling, the results of a lifetime's worth of back-breaking manual labor and extreme poverty. Recuperating in a mysterious, vaulted infirmary with a network of subterranean passages, Ventura wanders in and out of the various rooms — which, through ambiguous and startling slippages of time and place, lead him to hidden or suppressed areas of his mind.

Invoking the photography of Jacob Riis (1849 – 1914), the famous Danish-American photographer, journalist, and advocate for poverty reform, Costa's new film is both a powerful indictment of social and racial injustice in Portugal and a new pinnacle of the filmmaker's art. Unfolding like a hushed, chiaroscuro fever dream, “Horse Money” pushes Costa's astonishing visual style and formal rigor to new heights with its Caravaggesque tableaux composed of high-contrast light and shadow, and others recalling Rembrandt with their velvety textures and ashen, sepia hues. Not only blurring fact and fiction but actively conflating history and contemporaneity, memory, and desire, trauma and survival, “Horse Money” is yet another masterpiece from one of the world's greatest film artists. (Andrea Picard, TIFF)

Co-sponsored by: Brazil Initiative / Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies • LSA • International Institute • African Studies Center • Department of Afro-American and African Studies • Institute for the Humanities • Department of Romance Languages and Literatures • Sheldon Cohn Fund / Department of Screen Arts and Cultures • Center for European Studies.

For more information about the Lusophone Film Festival.