Ico Costa’s debut is nearly completely without words. The inspiration for the film’s minimalistic, raw documentary-like feel were two murders that shook Portugal several years ago—both committed by fathers. Costa does not, however, take the path of a classic detective story, because, as he says, he is not interested in causes and effects but rather in what lies between them: the riddle of human nature, of evil, of loneliness. Hence, we don’t see any on-screen violence, but we remain throughout the film in the presence of the enigmatic protagonist, played by amateur actor Henrique Bonacho. The man lives in a primitive hut in the mountains, from where he has a view of the village—the inhabitants sometimes give him food—in the valley below. Conversations never really get going, especially when someone asks him about his daughter. We can only guess at what provokes the shepherd to sneak into the village one day, carrying a rifle. He hides in the forest, disappearing among the dense undergrowth and trees as if he were an organic part of nature. The camera, carefully observing his body, his gestures and his efforts, is the only precious witness to this silent drama. The entire ethical thrust of the film is revealed in its patient and invaluable presence.
Ico Costa is a director and screenwriter who studied at film schools in Portugal and Argentina. He has made numerous short films, including Nyo vweta Nafta, winner of the main prize at the Cinéma du Réel Festival. Alva, presented in the Bright Future section at the Rotterdam Festival, is his feature debut. He made the film in collaboration with Hugo Azevedo, who has done the cinematography for films by directors such as Miguel Gomes and Eugène Green.
2012 Quatro horas descalço / Four Hours Barefoot (short)
2013 Corrente (short)
2017 Nyo vweta Nafta (short)
2017 Barulho, Eclipse (doc.)