with Jani Zhao and Natxo Checa

Berlinale Shorts I
Mon, Feb 10, 16h – CinemaxX 5
Wed, Feb 12, 22h – CinemaxX 3
Fri, Feb 14, 17h45 – Colosseum 1
Berlinale Shorts Go West
Sun, Feb 16, 19h30 – Zoo Palast 2
Screening Shorts – A Compilation of Short Films
Wed, Feb, 12 11h – HAU Hebbel am Ufer

In this short comedy, Luís Vaz de Camões, the greatest Portuguese renaissance poet, struggles creatively while engaging in a hedonistic, coprophagic, and drug addled lifestyle. The film follows the poet, and his lover Dinamene, as he writes his masterpiece, the epic poem s Lusíadas. He travels from the cacophony of the Indic jungles, surrounded by allegorical elephants and rhyming macaques, to the frontier of Heaven and Hell, where he is confronted by his fantasy: fame and immortality.

Director’s Note
Camões was the first European poet to have an extended experience in Africa, India and Indochina. He wrote Os Lusíadas while he was exiled in the Indes, a poem that glorifies the Portuguese navigators that departed from Lusitanian shores and traveled to Taprobana, now known as Sri Lanka.
Many myths surround Camões’ voyages, and one in particular was an inspiration for this film. It has Camões falling in love with a Chinese courtesan, which he then baptized with a Greek nymph’s name: Dinamene. The myth goes on to have Camões and Dinamene imprisoned on a boat to Goa and suffering a shipwreck. Supposedly his lover drowned, as Camões was too busy swimming after his manuscript.
Taprobana is intended as a poetic and absurd satire about this contradictory and charming character; a European exiled in the Indes, but obsessed with his homeland; an iconoclast rapscallion that wrote some of the most sublime verses of the Portuguese language, where spiritual illumination is inextricable from sexual apotheosis.

Gabriel Abrantes  - Director / Producer
Gabriel Abrantes (b.1984) is an artist and filmmaker who has produced a significant body of work in film since studying at The Cooper Union, L’ École National des Beaux-Arts and Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains. Abrantes is the winner of several prizes, including the Golden Leopard for Best International Short Film at the Locarno Film Festival 2010 for his film A History of Mutual Respect. His films have premiered at festivals such as La Biennale di Venezia, Locarno, Toronto. He has exhibited since 2002 in museums such as the MIT:List Center for the Arts in Boston, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, and Museu Serralves in Porto

Jani Zhao  -Actress
Jani Zhao (1992) is a Portuguese actress of Chinese descent. She studied at Teatro Escola Proficional de Cascais, and from early on has established a career in modeling and acting. She has been one of the title characters in a number of Portuguese television productions, such as Floribella, Rebelde Way, Morangos com Açucar and Sentimentos. She has also worked on stage productions, such as Dead End by Jorge Andrade, premiered at Maria Matos Theatre, in Lisbon. She is currently acting on a new T.V. production in Luanda, Angola.

Natxo Checa  -Actor / Producer
Natxo Checa is a curator and producer based in Lisbon, Portugal. In 2009 he was the curator of the Portuguese Pavillon at the 53rd Biennale di Venezia, working with João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva on their exhibition: “Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds Of Air”. Since 1994 he has worked as a curator and producer at Galeria Zé dos Bois. His main concern is to develop an intimate relationship with certain artists’ practices by accompanying the entire process from research to fieldwork, production to exhibition. His interdisciplinary approach to curating and production is what has led him to produce Abrantes’ films, work as a cinematographer on a number of Abrantes’ projects, as well as act in of the main roles of Taprobana.


A Mutual Respect Productions  -Production Company
A Mutual Respect is a film production company established in 2010 in Lisbon by Gabriel Abrantes, Natxo Checa and Associação Zé dos Bois. Its main ambition is to find alternative and flexible means to produce moving image based works and films of an innovative and experimental nature.

ZDB (Marta Furtado / Joana Botelho)  -Producer
Zé dos Bois (ZDB) is a non-profit cultural association. It has functioned as a cultural center, in the center of Lisbon, since 1994. It has served as a platform for the creation, production and exhibition of contemporary art exhibitions, performance, drama, cinema, music and artistic residencies. It has collaborated with artists such as: João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Kenneth Anger, Patrícia Portela, Animal Collective, John Romão, Alexandre Estrela, Jean Baudrillard, and Emory Douglas.

Vimukthi Jayasundara  -Producer
Vimukthi Jayasundara is an award-winning Sri Lankan film director, screenwriter and visual artist. His first feature, The Forsaken Land (2005) won the Caméra d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, making him the only Sri Lankan to win the award. He followed this with Between Two Worlds (2009) which got nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival 2009. Vimukthi’s third feature, Mushrooms (2011) was filmed in India and went on to be selected for the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival 2011.

CPH: DOX / DOX:LAB  -Producer
DOX:LAB is CPH:DOX’s international film production program launched in 2009. A laboratory for creativity and artistic exchange, where selected filmmakers are paired in teams of two and given carte blanche and a grant to make a film. The experiment has been an overwhelming success with films selected for film festivals like Berlin and Venice, as well as Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Toronto and Locarno.

A film by Gabriel Abrantes

Jani Zhao - Dinamene
Natxo Checa - Luís Vaz de Camões
U.G. Punchi Banda - Male Farmer
B. Wimalawate - Woman Farmer
Lasantha David - Opium Dealer
Gabriel Abrantes - Portuguese Authority
Dhamika Amarashinghe Portuguese Authority
João Pedro Vale - King Filipe II
André Príncipe - King’s Page
Alexandre Melo - Petrarch
Gonçalo Pena - Homer
Mónica Talina - Nymph I
Ana Rita Lopes - Nymph II
Joana Pais de Brito - Nymph III
Andreia Marcelino  -Nymph IV

Gabriel Abrantes

Screenplay Consultant
Lasantha David

Gabriel Abrantes
Natxo Checa
Lakruwan Withanage

Produced by
A Mutual Respect Productions
Vimukthi Jayasundara
in corporation with
Danish Centre for Culture and Development

Natxo Checa, Marta Furtado, Gabriel Abrantes and Vimukthi Jayasundara

Production Director
Natxo Checa

Associate Producers
Patricia Drati
Tine Fischer

 Production Management, Portugal

Line Producer, Portugal
Marta Furtado
Joana Botelho

Production Management, Sri Lanka
24 Frames

Line Producer, Sri Lanka
Deepal Gunaratne

Dhamika Amarashinghe

Production Assistants, Sri Lanka
Lakruwan Withanage
Jani Zhao
Dhamika Amarashinghe
Lasantha David

Gabriel Abrantes

Special Effects
Gabriel Abrantes

The Barber Of Seville Overture
By Gioacchino Rossini

Performance by the
Davis High School
Symphony Orchestra at the
Wennberg Music Festival,
March 27, 2010.
Mondavi Center
for the Performing Arts,
UC Davis.

Post Production Dubbing Studio

Sound Mixing and Post Production Recording
Hugo Leitão

Sound Editing
Hugo Leitão and Gabriel Abrantes
Foley Artist
Daniel Gries

Image Post-Production Coordinator
Pedro Ribeiro

Color Correction
Jennifer Mendes

Image and Sound Post Production
Loudness Films, Lisbon
Director of Post Production Facilities
Branko Neskov
16mm Developing Lab
Eclair Studios, Paris
Director Of Costumer Relations, Post Production
Gina Barbier

Kodak 16Mm Vision III

Production Stills Photographer
Susana Pomba

Special Thanks
Tiago Borges, Filipe Felizardo, Alexandre Rendeiro, Carlos Gaspar, Makoto Yagyu, Funerária Moreira Ramos, Isabel Alves, Sérgio Alxeredo, Ael Dallier Vega, Mati Diop, Justin Taurand, Aurelien Deseez, Judith Lou Levy, Benjamin Crotty, Daniel Schmidt, Maria João Mayer, Joana Nascimento, Manuel Poças, Miguel Valverde, Obviosom

This film benefited from the kind support of Maria Gonzaga – Costumes, Rotas do Sal, Celso Santos e Jorge Pina, Obviosom

Filming at Jeronimos Monastery made possible by the kind support of DGPC/ Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Trips funded by the kind support of Air France – Fid:lab Prize

This film was made possible  by the financial support of  Danish Centre for Culture and Development / Fid:lab Marseille

Very Special Thanks to Hélder Macedo

Taprobana © 2013 All Rights Reserved
Mutual Respect Productions

The promotion of this film at the Berlinale 2014 benefited from the kind support of Instituto do Cinema e Audiovisual in Portugal.


Boa Tarde

Domingo dia 3 de Março das 16h às 18h.

Procuram-se actrizes dos 18 aos 25 anos para figuração em curta-metragem de Gabriel Abrantes baseada na vida e obra de Luís Vaz de Camões. A cena é uma recriação do episódio da Ilha dos Amores dos Lusíadas a filmar dia 7 de Março.

Disponibilidade para cenas que envolvam nudez!

Informações: mutualrespectproductions@gmail.com



Liberdade, Palácios de Pena and Olympia I & II will show at BFI London Film Festival this weekend.

From the outset, Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt’s Palácios de Pena establishes for itself a sense of veiled purpose, effecting a curious disjuncture in both narrative and form. Sumptuously, meticulously photographed; cinematic; yet curiously at odds with its conventional mantle, it dances between feature film and long-form artist’s work, never quite allowing itself to be pinned by either trope.
The film’s protagonists, a group of teenage girls, maintain a louche, cool, strangely distant relationship with one another, and with the narrative itself, somehow at once within and beyond the world which is constructed for us – for them – as if reluctant to submit entirely to the fiction. The effect of distanciation that this produces, whether intentional or merely an artefact of the artists wielding the tools of the feature film director (that is, at something of a remove himself), or of the loss of a layer of linguistic codes in translation and subtitling, is one of an ‘othering’: as with the actresses themselves, the dialogue is aware of itself, and becomes to an extent self-reflexive, its words ‘othered’. It is almost as if the girls are speaking lines from another film. Their words fall heavy.
Providing the framework for this sparse dialogue, in the film’s opening scene, is a richly symbolic space; a large, empty sports stadium. It is an arena for spectatorship, for contest, for competition. The girls navigate the space at first, it seems, without any of the usual components of a game we might expect to see in such a stadium. Ball, racquets, sticks, crowd are absent, and the girls instead run and dive together, awkwardly denuded of the bald accroutements of sport – those instruments which would complete the loop of meaning suggested by the stadium location – playful yet aggressive, strangely balletic. And the film’s other spaces, as they appear, are similarly symbolic: a high concrete enclosure, a dam, a stone tower, a rock escarpment overlooking the sea.
The interdeterminacy of space, it seems, is a theme that Abrantes & Schmidt use throughout the film – the withholding of meaning; the free interchange of signification – to great effect, given (indeed, because of) the conventional format he has chosen. Where we might expect to see closed sets of meanings presented within a taut, linear narrative, the artists play, presenting a multiplicity of meanings, momentarily, before closing the loop.
Framed entirely by women, aside, surely pointedly, from a dream about men, and the errors of men, in the cast of amoral ‘chorus’, troubled moral individual, wild seer, and sage-like figure (‘Little Grandma’, the dreamer) presiding over all, Palácios de Pena follows a fabulous (in the strict sense of the word) narrative which recalls – not only, ineluctably, for their association with Portugal, for thefado drifting across the frame – the magic realism of Eugène Green’s A Portuguese Nun or John Berger’s Here is Where we Meet; also the utopian spaces of Tarkovsky; the cruelty of Haneke. It examines a similar liminality: of the space between wakefulness and sleep, reality and dream, morality and amorality, life and death. It is no surprise, perhaps, that its main protagonists are teenagers, navigating that dangerous time between the amoral and moral, child and adult: a time for and of cruelty. It lives in the interval, in the black space, at death itself, perhaps. But it exists on its own, too, in a state of magical suspension.
Beyond the draw of its narrative, though, Palácios de Pena – indeed Abrantes’ other work – is interesting in the context of the recuperation of narrative in artists’ moving image after the ascetic purges of Structuralism. Its very length, too, at an hour, consigns it to an indeterminate, uneasy category – something almost subversive for a work with so ostensibly straightforward a method.
It is emblematic, perhaps, of a new fluidity in artists’ moving image practice and, beyond the recuperation of narrative, which is after all well-established, suggests – as Ben Rivers and certain others move towards longer-form work – a challenge to the commercial, conventional form of feature film itself which goes beyond the assimilative strategies of Steve McQueen, Gillian Wearing and others. That is, it demands to use those most conventional of the tropes of commercial feature film yet remain outside of the (arguably decayed) industrial model of production and mainstream distribution network.
Adam Pugh
Palácios de Pena will be screened alongside two other collaborative works by Abrantes.
GABRIEL ABRANTES screenings :-
Saturday 22 October 2011, at 9pm, BFI Southbank NFT3
Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 1:15pm, BFI Southbank NFT2

By Gabriel Abrantes and Katie Widlowski
Gabriel Abrantes early film Olympia I & II will follow the screening of two ambitious new works – Liberdade and Palacios de Pena – in his solo programme on 22 & 25 October. The artist will be present to introduce and take questions on these works, which were made in collaboration with Katie Widlowski, Benjamin Crotty and Daniel Schmidt.
To accompany two new films by Gabriel Abrantes, Olympia I & II (2008) is revisited to delve deeper into the way this artists treats his characters’ attitudes towards sex, sexuality and power. Abrantes and Katie Widlowski explicitly reference Manet’s painting Olympia (1863) through the title and the visual composition of the frame. Their use of 16mm film heightens the painterly qualities of the work: the saturated colours, the grainy make-up, the smoothness of the porcelain skin of Olympia and the velvet cushions and feathery flowers caressing her body.
Despite the art historical context, the work does not get lost in aesthetics. The twisted and verbally aggressive interaction of Olympia I contrasts with the sickly sweet homoerotic conversation that leads to intercourse between transvestite Olympia and his maid in Olympia II. Both films evoke the characters’ sadness and bitterness towards life and their psychological cracks hit the viewer emotionally.
Marina Ribera
Palacios de Pena (Palaces of Pity) received its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival 2011. Here’s the trailer :-
GABRIEL ABRANTES screenings :-
Saturday 22 October 2011, at 9pm, BFI Southbank NFT3
Tuesday 25 October 2011, at 1:15pm, BFI Southbank NFT2