I was invited for the pre-release screening of the film “SCULP_SONHOS” at The Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual  on 30 January of 2020; this 75 minutes long film was made to be seen as an installation at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture of Santo Tirso . This is the first of a two-part project that will culminate with a science fiction movie. Before I talk about my experience of watching the installation film here’s some pertinent information about the project, taken from the official website :
<<SCULP is a cinematographic piece created by Joaquim Pavão  around the sculptures contained in the collection of the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture – MIEC.
SCULP shows a dystopian world, where humans fight for survival on Earth and most people’s free will has been replaced by “the right will”, as defined by a small group of individuals and communicated to each person through an algorithmically generated voice.
Two cinematographic pieces to be enjoyed in different ways.
The result of a MIEC commission and destined to museum-goers, SCULP_SONHOS may be viewed from beginning to end, as well as stopped, interpolated or restarted at any point. It works much like a book of poetry, that can be randomly opened on any page in order to read one passage at a time. Every scene has its own life and force, and all of them together are like cells making up a dystopian body. There are references to the fictional universe put forward in the feature-length film, short dialogues, and monologues that suggest rather than explain. Here, more important than the narrative is the power to challenge viewers through suggestions and feelings of disquiet.
SCULP is a feature-length film to be distributed through national and international movie theaters, as well as other distribution channels. Aiming at a wider audience, the film tells the story of the inhabitants of a survival system, created by humans in an apocalyptic situation, in which free will has been replaced by a universal “right will”. The settings are mostly at the MIEC, although other places were chosen for filming.>>
I really enjoyed the eerie and strange vibe in the film “SCULP_SONHOS”. The images are strong and carefully ‘constructed’: the director was present at the preview of the film and used the analogy of Lego building blocks. The music was interesting and an aid for the disconcerting atmosphere the director wanted to convey. The film was not made to be seen in a theater room, even a small one such as the one I saw it, but that didn’t diminish the experience.
Being a film for museum context I guess that it would be better if the length was shorter and that the sequences between scenes were simply black and not the high-tech animated interface (this detail will be changed for the final version).
60 minutes is a bit too long; some of the sequences could be cut in order of taking out some dispensable repetition. The voice-over, in my opinion, is not necessary. This is a different product from the more narrative second part of the project, the sci-fi film that, as the director said, is mostly finished but needs funds. The production will end in 2021 and the goal is to exhibit the film on the commercial circuit. If I understood correctly the director aims to create a much different film from the one I saw – “SCULP_SONHOS” –, more oneiric, experimental, theatrical, with a video clip aesthetic at times.
“SCULP_SONHOS” shows us two different kinds of people, the ones living in the system and the ones living outside the system, in the mud. The ones living in the system live longer but seem to live in an artificial environment with no natural light, inside a building with water vats where they immerse themselves. The ‘mud people’ seem primitive and aggressive. These characters, shown at the beginning and at the end of the film, and the ever-present mud reminded me of an unorthodox sci-fi Russian movie called “Hard to Be a God” (2013).
The dream sequences of “SCULP_SONHOS” are powerful sequences that would be much more powerful if a choreographer had meticulously designed the actions of the actors, who had wonderful figurines. The Wim Wenders movie “Pina” (2011) comes to mind. The dream sequences had many themes but the overall concepts were birth (seen when a kind of Venus of Willendorf gives birth to a matured man), sex and shame, gluttony, and separation. The Production Manager/ Stage Director and Manager had the amiability to share with me the chosen themes for the seven dreams: be born; eat; play; contemplate; built; procreate; die.
I highly recommend a visit to the Santo Tirso museum, home to one of the biggest collections of contemporary sculptures in Europe, “a landmark in the international art scene”.
7 February 2020 onwards, the film “SCULP_SONHOS” will be available for the visitors at the MIEC. For more information about this project, you can also visit the Facebook page .