In the presence of and in conversation with director Susana de Sousa Dias
Archival footage has long been used in documentaries as illustration, but the most powerful use of such footage subjects it to what the Situationists called détournement: re-contextualizing the moving image to undo the message it was originally meant to convey.
Harvard Film Archive
Susana de Sousa Dias creates a living requiem from recently excavated photographs of Portuguese political prisoners taken by the Political Police (PIDE) during the Salazar dictatorship of 1926-1974. The hypnotizing sequence of faces flows eerily through an absorbing narrative arrangement, guided by the voices of the surviving prisoners and the very present ambient space around them. The subtle zooms, slow fades and heavy pauses isolate and vibrate the historical and emotional charge of the routine identification photos. Explaining their expressions at the moment of being photographed – often the result of complicated emotional states disguised by the “minimal gestures” of a repressed Portugal – lead to unexpected, poetic, horrific tales of the physical and psychological torture the survivors endured while in prison and the ubiquitous, insidious atmosphere of subjugation and surveillance while “free.”
The screening is organised by STUK and Courtisane, in collaboration with the Lieven Gevaert Centre and the Institute of Philosophy (KU Leuven) in the series MOVING IMAGE – FOCUS and is part of DISSENT!, an initiative of Courtisane, Auguste Orts and Argos, in the framework of the research project “Figures of Dissent” (KASK/Hogent), with support of VG.
SUSANA DE SOUSA DIAS
(°1962, Lisbon, PT)
Susana de Sousa Dias is a director and editor. She is known for films such as Natureza Morta (2005) STILL LIFE (2005) and 48 (2010) in which she uses materials from the film archive of the Portuguese Army, created to celebrate and document its own might, in order to reveal both the violence behind, and the limits of, that authority. De Sousa Dias has won several awards for her films, amongst which the Prémio Atalanta Filmes at DocLisboa 2005, the Merit Price at Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2006, an Honorary Mention at Slow Film Festival 2007, Hungary and the Grand Prix at Cinéma du Réel 2010. Her most recent documentary film is Luz Obscura (2016).