The Metamorphosis of Birds (2020)
Dir. Catarina Vasconcelos | Portugal | Docu-Fiction | 101 mins | PG | Portuguese with English subtitles
“In English ‘mother’, in Latin ‘mater’, in Thai ‘mai’.” Catarina Vasconcelos’ first feature, shot on 16mm film, tugs gingerly at heartstrings as she delves into her own personal history—a meditative self-reflection on the loss of her mother and grandmother. Together with her father, they navigate the tender aftermath of death, her existential questioning reflected ambiguously through the film’s docu-fictive mode. Graced with elegant spoken poetry, symbolic metaphors, and naturalistic if immaculately-crafted mise-en-scène, Vasconcelos’ visual direction contributes to the film’s deliberate, undulating rhythm. Through a polyphony of voices—and a touch of Schubert—that tell of memories refound, Vasconcelos celebrates her family, life and loss, likening them to the cyclical process of metamorphosis in this poignant tribute to the process of healing.
Awards: Winner – FIPRESCI Award, Encounters (Berlin International Film Festival)
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