The Portuguese Gulbenkian Foundation, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the uprising, asked several directors, including, in addition to Costa, among others Chantal Akerman, Bing Wang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, to make 15-minute films as part of an international project called The State of the World. What should he make? Probably something simple, serious, concerning his friends from Cape Verde. One of them has just received a letter from the immigration office: in 20 days, he'll be deported from Lisbon to the islands. The panicked boy is confused: how should he deal with the situation? It's time to say good-bye. He bids farewell to his mother, who tells him about her village, the people she knew, the places she remembers and that will soon become his home. She tells him a story that has been passed down orally about a devil that, employing various tricks, leaves bad news in the village. If you don't give the devil's letter to someone else, you'll die. We don't live in isolation from mythology these days: old stories from the edge of the world are reflected in specific social issues. I'm just a spectator, says Costa, stressing the collective nature of work on a film. I'm their first audience.
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