A CAMPANHA DO CREOULA (The Quest of the Schooner Creoula)

We've met André Valentim de Almeida before - with his 2012 essayist documentary about a 2009 stay in New York City, From New York with Love. For a follow-up, the director delves yet again both in his magic box of tricks and in his archives and pulls out footage he shot in the Summer of 2010, while accompanying a scientific trip to the Savage Islands, a Portuguese archipelago off Madeira. "Three weeks without newspapers, phone, internet or fine pastries", he pronounces in the voiceover, at the height of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup - and soccer will play an important role in the structuring and presenting of the film, designed as an essay about the ineffable qualities of Portuguese history and society.

     Structure is important here: A Campanha do Creoula is clearly a more structured, cohesive film than From New York with Love, with which it shares the playfulness and the slow unfolding of its real subject. On the surface a variation on the rather formulaic, often stiff science documentaries that are the mainstays of cable channels, the deadpan wit and tight narrative control lead the viewer into something else altogether, a peculiar sociological study that rises slowly from the uncovering of the history of the Savages, of the ship itself - the Creoula was once a lugger active in cod fishing off Newfoundland refitted as a training ship for the Portuguese Navy - and of the director. All of them seem to collide head-on at a very slow but nonetheless unavoidable speeds, ending up as a fleetingly moving, but mostly cheerfully melancholy look at the director's relationship with the little corner of the world he calls home. It's yet another intensely personal essay, but one that is much more wide-ranging and accessible (not to mention funnier) than From New York with Love.

Director, writer, cinematographer, editor and producer: André Valentim de Almeida
Portugal, 2013, 73 minutes

Screened: DocLisboa 2013 official competition advance screener, Lisbon, October 23rd 2013


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