Portuguese cinema

Portuguese cinema

When the 19th century was reaching its end, Portuguese film entrepreneurs decided to use the American technology instead of the French. Thereby, it was Thomas Alva Edison’s kinetograph the chosen device to project the first movies in Lisbon, leaving the Lumiere’s cinematograph apart.

Although the projections were some of the firsts in Europe, first movies presented in Portugal weren’t produced in the country. Thus, productions made by the British filmmaker Robert William Paul were acquired by private cinema promoters for exhibitions in the Real Coliseum in 1896.

Os Crimes de Diogo Alves

Os Crimes de Diogo Alves

Beginnings

Almost ten years after the first projections, the first production companies started to be established. One of the most important from those years was Invicta Films, created in Oporto by the tycoon Nunes de Mattos. The company specialized in documentaries, from which Portuguese historians.

Meanwhile in Lisbon, former photographers such as Joao Freire Correira directed successful documentaries A Batalha das Flores no Campo Grande (1907) and Os Crimes de Diogo Alves (1909). Sometime later Julio Costa and Joao Almeida joined Correira’s adventures by funding Empresa Cinematográfica Ideal, a company aiming to improve the production and distribution of Portuguese films. It is noteworthy that Joao Freire Correira was also the founder od the first cinema theatre in the country.

Interwar period

While the war was on its highest, Portuguese filmmakers tried to reflect better aspects of life such as comedy and music with movies such as Francisco Ribeiro’s The Countryyard of the Ballads (1942) and Arthur Duarte’s O Costa Castelo (1943). At the same time, a right-wing films trend, supported by high government politicians, started to gain adepts with films such as Manuel García’s Ines de Castro (1945) and Armando de Miranda’s Capas Negras (1947).

   

Capas Negras

Capas Negras

Manoel de Oliveira

Manoel de Oliveira

The Novo Cine era

This movement, inspired by the neorealist and new trends in the French cinema was created by Brazilian filmmakers based in Portugal in the 60s and 70s. The most prominent directors of the Novo Cine were: Paulo Rocha, Antonio da Cunha y Fernando Lopes.

However, Manoel de Oliveira, the greatest Portuguese director started his way in that same time. Despite his career started in 1931 with a short film called Labor on the Douro River, he consolidated himself as director four decades later with Benilde (1975). Among his more than thirty movies, the most important are Francisca (1979), The Convent (1995) and The Uncertainty Principle (2002).

Although the achievements of Manoel de Oliveira, Portuguese film industry plunged dramatically losing the importance it gained with the Cine Novo movement. However, movies such as Carlos Cohelo’s O Crime do Padre Amaro (2005) have been distinguished in the international scene.

Return to Eurocinema

Sign up for the Eurochannel Newsletter!

Don't miss our latest line-up, exclusive sweepstakes and events!