Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
Today’s #56Films entry comes introduced by influential film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum on one of his essential filmmakers, Pedro Costa. Costa’s new film, Vitalina Varela, won the Silver Hugo Jury Prize at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival in 2019 and is being released in virtual cinemas around the country this month by Grasshopper Film. By screening this film through the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Virtual Cinema, 50% of your purchase helps support the Film Center while they are currently forced to close. Read on for Rosenbaum’s review and rent the film this weekend!
Director: Pedro Costa
55th Chicago International Film Festival
It isn’t necessary to have seen anything by Portuguese master Pedro Costa before encountering the title heroine here, but if you saw his previous feature, Horse Money, you’ve already met her—a striking, angry middle-aged woman from Cape Verde who finally found the money to fly to Lisbon to join her long-absent husband, only to discover that she just missed his funeral. Settling into his rickety, crumbling house and trying to come to terms with her grief, keeping company mainly with a semi-mad priest (Costa regular Ventura), she’s precisely the kind of person that the world and movies tend to ignore but Costa’s epic portraiture, so beautifully lit and framed that it becomes jaw-dropping, builds an exalted altar to her, inviting us to luxuriate in her hushed presence. Audiences tend to have an easier time with this dark reverie than critics because it takes us somewhere very special and respects us far too much to tell us why. – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Critic