64 minutes

There is a good film hidden somewhere in Dulce Fernandes' middlingly infuriating hour-long debut Cartas de Angola, but it seems as if the director didn't quite know how to get there. The core of the piece is an intriguing, little-known nugget of information from the Angolan independence wars: after the 1974 Portuguese revolution that put an end to the country's rule over its African colonies, Cuban soldiers and doctors were sent to help Angolan movements against the US-backed forces struggling for control of the newly liberated country.

     Ms. Fernandes travels to Cuba to interview some of them, finding people who had no idea why they were in Angola but who fought and healed through this forgotten war. Her mistake is in attempting to superimpose it with her own experience as a son of Portuguese colonists forced out by the liberation, as a child who was too young when she left to have any memory about Angola. This has little to nothing to do with the Cuba footage, despite the forced attempts by the voiceover commentary to connect both, resulting in a schizophrenic project where two independent stories are shoehorned into one film without any rhyme or reason, wasting in the process two solid ideas.

Directed and written by Dulce Fernandes; produced by Rui Simões, António dos Reis; music by Manuena Kodjovi; director of photography (colour), Ricardo Filiaci; film editor, Francisco Costa. 
     A Real Ficção presentation of a Real Ficção/Dread Locks production, with funding from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture/Institute for Cinema and Audiovisual and Radio and Television of Portugal, with the support of the European Commission's MEDIA Programme. 
     Screened: DocLisboa 2011 advance screener, Lisbon, October 16th 2011.


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