Pedro Costa has made digital works since the turn of the 21st Century due to a number of influences and philosophical premises. Through his 1997 film, Ossos (Bones), Costa shot on film and perfected a style of shadow and elision equal... [more]
Pedro Costa has made digital works since the turn of the 21st Century due to a number of influences and philosophical premises. Through his 1997 film, Ossos (Bones), Costa shot on film and perfected a style of shadow and elision equal parts Bresson, Rivette, Ford and Tourneur. After working in the Lisbon slums of Fountainhas while filming Ossos, Costa realized the inefficiency and intrusion of a 35mm camera crew, no matter their limited size/footprint. He realized that to work with any grace, any honesty, any integrity, he would have to abandon the troupe of filmmaking. Thus he forsake film’s emulsion for digital’s arrayed pinholes of light and began to shoot his next film, No Quarto de Vanda (In Vanda’s Room), by himself with a “consumer-grade” camera. This was not simply a democratic, or even simply a Marxist, impulse. It’s more complicated, more radical. His new art—in and of the margins—gives face to the mosaic of poverty too rarely seen on cinema screens. It builds the world in blocks of time and space into a concrete object of witness. It’s document without the guile of documentary. It gives us heroes without capes (although they wear masks, as does everybody, the argument goes): the ordinary, made material, exceeds representation.
Costa’s cinema refuses. As he says, it’s a closed door that leaves you guessing. The impulse to separation is a denial of not just audience identification but the very way of seeing that keeps poverty hidden. It’s a paradox. Pedro Costa looks at the rift and creats a cinema of faith—in the world, in our bondage to it as much as our flight from it. This faith, of course, supercedes politics, however political his image-making may be, into the space of ethics. —How we look is how we make the world. [show less]