WATCHING THE WHITES OF YOUR EYES TURN RED: THE FILMS OF PEDRO COSTA
It was only after he relinquished the comforts provided by the regularity of a cinematic production – after his third feature film, Bones (1997) – that Pedro Costa succeeded in finding his voice. On his own, without lights or a crew, taking along only a DV camera, he went and filmed Vanda, a junkie who lived in a room in a Lisbon suburb. The result was one of the most remarkable films of recent years; a film that has one foot in the documentary and the other in fiction. In Vanda’s Room (2000) and the film that followed it, Colossal Youth (2006), are films that were made slowly, by the very people that took part in them, and not by professionals; people with whom Costa lived and worked, selflessly. And that is why these films continue to be bothersome (they bother formal cinema because they’re not formal enough, but they also bother experimentalists because they’re not experimental enough), pure and rare, since they succeed in eluding any type of classification.
Born in Lisbon in 1959, he abandoned studying History at the University of Lisbon to study at the Lisbon Film and Theater School where he was a student of Antonio Reis. He directed his first feature film, Blood, in 1990. Down to Earth, which was filmed in Cape Verde and screened at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, followed in 1994. His next film, Bones, won the Osella d’Oro award in Venice in 1997, while In Vanda’s Room won the Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival in 2000. His film Colossal Youth screened in Competition at Cannes in 2006. Recently he directed Sweet Exorcist, a segment of the omnibus feature Centro Histórico, in which Manoel de Oliveira, Aki Kaurismaki and Victor Erice also participated. His work has been presented in galleries and museums around the world. He is one of the invited artists of the Cuban Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2013.