Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa [Criterion Collection] [4 Discs] [DVD]

As issued by The Criterion Collection, this set brings together a trilogy of features helmed in the 1990s and 2000s by the Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa -- titles uniformly responsible for putting Costa on the map. All of the works in question are stark dramas, slow and understated ad extremis per Costa's style, and all deal with the desperation of those living in the dregs of society. Of this set, the 1997 Ossos tells of an initially suicidal young woman whose infant child gets snatched up by her ne'er-do-well boyfriend, prompting the mother to attempt to get the child back; the three-hour In Vanda's Room (2000) tells of an addict named Vanda who consumes vast quantities of drugs and sells vegetables to support herself; and the 2006 Colossal Youth resurrects characters from the prior two films, including Ventura from Ossos and Vanda from Vanda's Room, in its grim look at citizens struggling to survive in the slums of Casal Boba, Portugal. Bonus supplements include conversations between Costa and director Jean-Pierre Gorin about Ossos and Youth, Costa's video installation piece "Little Boy Male, Little Girl Female," photo galleries by Richard Dumas and Mariana Viegas, theatrical trailers for Youth and Room, and much more.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Ossos, newly restored in high-definition, and In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth remastered from the digital camera originals, all under the supervision of director Pedro Costa
  • New video conversations between Costa and filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin about Ossos and Colossal Youth
  • New audio commentary for In Vanda's Room featuring Costa and Gorin
  • New selected-scene audio commentary for Colossal Youth with critic Cyril Neyrat and author-philosopher Jacques Rancière
  • Video interviews with critic João Bénard da Costa and cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel about Ossos
  • New video essay by artist Jeff Wall on Ossos
  • All Blossoms Again, a feature-length documentary on Costa, Colossal Youth, and the director's relationship to Fontainhas
  • Tarrafal and The Rabbit Hunters, two short films by Costa
  • "Little Boy Male, Little Girl Female," a video installation piece by Costa featuring outtakes from In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth
  • Galleries of photos by Mariana Viegas and Richard Dumas
  • Theatrical trailers for In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth
  • Plus: A booklet featuring essays by critics Cyril Neyrat, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Luc Sante, Thom Andersen, and Mark Peranson, as well as a reprint by film historian Bernard Eisenschitz

Synopsis

Ossos
Realizing that teenage mom Tina is about to gas herself and her new child, Tina's young boyfriend grabs the infant and takes it to the streets of Lisbon. What he does next comprises the bulk of this extremely downbeat, minimalist drama from Portuguese director Pedro Costa. Once in the street, the boyfriend attempts to sell the child. When that fails, he leaves it at a nurse's house. That doesn't work out either so the youth gives the baby to a streetwalker. Meanwhile Tina and her friend try to get the baby back. When they fail, they decide to get revenge upon the boyfriend. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Colossal Youth
Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa offers a long and richly detailed look at his nation's poor and needy in this affecting blend of drama and documentary. Fontainhas was a community in Lisbon primarily populated by exiles from Cape Verde; Costa shot two of his earlier films there, Bones and In Vanda's Room, but Portuguese authorities tore down the village to make room for a new construction project, and its people were relocated to Casal Boba, a housing project on the edge of Lisbon. Ventura was a native of Fontainhas who appeared in Bones; he and his wife, Clotilde (Isabel Cardoso), moved to Casal Boba, but Clotilde became disenchanted with her new surroundings and left him to move back to Cape Verde. Now Ventura, left to his own devices, struggles to make a decent and dignified home for himself and the friends he calls his "children" in the slums of Casal Boba, including Vanda (Vanda Duarte), a recovering drug addict who was the focus of In Vanda's Room, and Lento (Alberto Barros), a close friend who is the only one Ventura trusts to hear the lovesick poetry he's written for his absent wife. Colossal Youth received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

No Quarto Da Vanda
A three-hour drama about the daily existence of a drug addict living in a Lisbon slum, In Vanda's Room centers on the 30-something Vanda who, when she isn't selling vegetables, spends most of her time consuming enormous quantities of drugs and engaging in long, ponderous conversations with her sister Zita. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Vanda Duarte - Clotilde
  • Image coming soon
    Maria Lipkina - Tina
  • Isabel Ruth
    Isabel Ruth - Eduarda
  • Image coming soon
    Inês de Medeiros - The Girl
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