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In Vanda's Room

Pedro Costa
No Quarto da Vanda
Portugal, Germany, Switzerland 2000 / 178’
Bones Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?

Come, you'll see how we really live. You asked us before to be quiet; now we're going to speak, and you'll listen. That's what we all do here: we talk and we do drugs. This is how Vanda and Zita, actresses in Costa's previous film, Bones, invite him into their room in Fontainhas. As the director has said over and over again, that film was a kind of existential experience for him, a fresh start on a new path. Every day for many months, in accordance with the routine that he has imposed on himself, he came to the set in their small bedroom, listened, watched, became familiar with the rhythm of a neighborhood that had been condemned to death, with the people who were staggering along the edge of the abyss. In his "first film," Costa develops a method that he will use from then on: he learns how to capture moments from the flow of reality, which are then, through trial and error, turned into a cinema. The source of his success is his mindfulness, his fascination and his refusal to impose on reality his own vision of how things should look. The result is an intimate study of a world whose inhabitants pay a higher price for what they didn't do than for what they did wrong.

Agnieszka Szeffel


  • Cannes IFF 2002 - Foreign Cineaste of the Year
  • Cinéma du Réel 2001 - Libraries Award
  • Locarno IFF 2000 - Don Quixote Award - Special Mention, Special Mention, First Prize (Youth Jury Award)
  • Yamagata International Documentary FF 2001 – FIPRESCI Award

Pedro Costa

Born in Lisbon (1959), he left his course of studies in History to attend classes taught by the poet and filmmaker António Reis at the Lisbon Film School. His first film Blood (O Sangue) had its world premiere at the Mostra Cinematografica di Venezia in 1989. Casa de Lava, his second feature, shot in Cabo Verde, was shown in Cannes, in 1994. Some of his other feature films include Bones (Ossos), In Vanda's Room (No Quarto da Vanda) and Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (Où gît votre sourire enfoui?) on the work of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub. He directed Sweet Exorcist, a segment of the omnibus feature Centro Histórico, with Manoel de Oliveira, Aki Kaurismäki and Víctor Erice. His work has been presented in galeries and museums around the world. Horse Money (Cavalo Dinheiro) was awarded the Leopard for best direction at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2014.


1987 Cartas a Julia (short)

1990 Krew / O Sangue / Blood

1994 Dom z lawy / Casa de Lava / Down to Earth

1997 Kości / Ossos / Bones

2000 W pokoju Wandy / No Quarto da Vanda / In Vanda's Room

2001 Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, cinéastes (odcinek Cinéastes, de notre temps, TV serie)

2002 Gdzie spoczywa twój uśmiech? / Onde Jaz o Teu Sorriso? / Où gît votre sourire enfoui? / Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?

2003 6 bagatelas (short)

2006 Pochód młodości / Juventude Em Marcha / Colossal Youth

2007 Tarrafal (short in O Estado do Mundo / The State of the World)

2007 Łowcy królików / The Rabbit Hunters (short in Memories, Jeonju Digital Project)

2009 Ne change rien

2010 O Nosso Homem / Our Man (short)

2012 Słodki egzorcysta / Sweet Exorcist / Lamento da Vida Jovem (short in Centro Histórico)

2014 Koń Forsa / Cavalo Dinheiro / Horse Money

2018 Vitalina Varela

Cast & Crew

director Pedro Costa
cinematography Pedro Costa
editing Dominique Auvray
sound Pedro Melo
cast Vanda Duarte, Zita Duarte, Lena Duarte, António Semedo Moreno, Paulo Nunes, Pedro Lanban, Geny, Paulo Jorge Gonçalves, Evangelina Nelas, Miquelina Barros, Fernando Paixão, Julião, Mosca, Manuel Gomes Miranda, Diogo Pires Miranda
producer Francisco Villa-Lobos
production Contracosta Produções, Pandora Film, Ventura Film, ZDF Das Kleine Fernsehspiel, RTSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana, Radiotelevisão Portuguesa (RTP)
sales Pedro Costa
language Creole
colouration colour