The Mostra Imaginaires Coloniaux proposes to discover Portuguese films that, since 1920, have portrayed on-screen the long history of the “Empire”: the Discoveries, the imperial project, colonial expansion, Salazar exploitation and domination and finally the war against the separatists (1961-74). It is a journey in the cinema making of various colonial paradoxical, contradictory and polemical narratives.

Curated by author and director Ariel de Bigault, this Mostra is part of the 2022 France-Portugal Season. It is made thanks to the support of the Cinemateca Portuguesa-Museu do Сinema which lends many of these films, on film, most of which have never been shown in France.

14 documentaries highlight the evolution of the colonial imagination forged by cinema. The first silent films surprised by their curious looks. The documentaries of the 40-50s, especially those of António Lopes Ribeiro, a major filmmaker of the Estado Novo, who advocated for the white ‘civilization’ mission, while highlighting the singularities of the peoples. When the separatists took up arms in 1961, the regime adopted an extreme attitude while broadcasting, through films like that of Frenchman Jean Leduc, an inclusive and universal Portuguese identity propaganda. In contrast, Joaquim Lopes Barbosa had the audacity to create an iconoclastic fiction denouncing the exploitation of African farmers. This rare gem, banned by censorship, will be presented for the first time in France.

After African independence (1975), Portuguese cinema remained quite silent about its colonial past. The feature films presented here are made by different generations of filmmakers, with very different perspectives. Acts of Guinea-Bissau by Fernando Matos Silva recounts the apocalypse of the empire. With NO or the Vanity of Commander, Manuel de Oliveira exposes his vision of the history of Portugal. Margarida Cardoso dissects the dissipation of colonial domination. A new generation challenges a history and identity forged by imperialist myths. Hugo Vieira da Silva talks about expansion in Africa and Ivo Ferreira talks about the war in Angola. Ariel de Bigault explores these 100 years of colonialism and anticolonialist cinema in Ghosts of an Empire with the participation of several filmmakers.

While filmmakers from various countries are once again questioning the European colonial past, this retrospective of Portuguese heritage opens up avenues for reflection on the role of cinema in the construction of yesterday’s and today’s imaginations, shared across borders.

Ariel de Bigault, is a French author and filmmaker. She has been working for decades in the lusophone world – Portugal, Brazil, Africa. In particular, she has been involved in music and cinema related projects. The program Imaginaires Coloniaux has been inspired by the feature-length documentary Ghosts of an Empire she created in 2020. She has also written all texts for the program except those related to Non by Manoel de Oliveira. 


The screenings will be followed by Q&A with directors Ivo Ferreira, Ariel de Bigault, head manager of the Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema José Manuel Costa, as well as Annouchka de AndradeVasco Martins (association Memória Viva), Denis Leduc, son of the director Jean Leduc and Raquel Schefer, researcher, filmmaker and lecturer at Sorbonne Nouvelle University.

19 March, 14h – Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé – OPENING
in the presence of José Manuel Costa, head manager of the  Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema
The first silent films
Macau – Cidade Progressiva e Monumental (Macao) by Manuel A. Amor, 1923.
Angola – Exposição Provincial, Agrícola, Pecuária e Industrial (Angola – Provincial, Agricultural and Industral Exhibition) by unknown filmmaker, 1923.
São Tomé Agricola e industrial (São Tomé, Agriculture and Industry) by Augusto Seara, 1929.
Festejos em Lourenço Marques pela passagem dos territórios do Niassa para a posse do Estado (Festivites in Lourenço Marques) by Augusto Seara, 1929.
Guiné – Aspectos Industriais e Agricolas (Guinea-Bissau – Industral and Agricultutral Aspects) by António A da Mata, 1929.
Acção Colonizadora dos Portugueses (Colonial Actions of the Portugese) by Fernandes Tomaz, 1929.
Guiné, Aldeia Indígena em Lisboa (Guinea-Bissau, Indian Villiage in Lisbon) by Agencia Geral Colonias, 1931.

19 March, 18h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
Colonial Propagandas 1 (1940-1944)
Gentes que Nós Civilizámos (The People that We Civilized) by António Lopes Ribeiro, 1944.
Guiné, Berço do Império 1446-1946 (Guinea-Bissau, Cradle of the Empire 1446-1946) by António Lopes Ribeiro, 1946.
Beira, by Felipe de Solms, 1950.
Macau, Joia do Oriente (Macao, Oriential Jewel) by Miguel Spigel, 1956.

20 March, 15h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
in the presence of the director Ariel de Bigault
Ghosts of an Empire / Fantasmas do Império, by Ariel de Bigault, 1920.

21 March, 19h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
in the presence of Annouchka de Andrade
Outpost of Progress / Posto Avançado do Progresso, by Hugo Vieira da Silva, 2016.

22 March, 19h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
in the presence of Vasco Martins (association Memória Viva) 
Acto dos Feitos da Guiné (Acts of Guinea-Bissau) by Fernando Matos Silva, 1980.

23 March, 19h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
in the presence of the director Ivo Ferreira
Angola, Decisão de Continuar (Angola, Decision to Remain) by Vasco Hogan Teves, 1962.
Letters from War / Cartas da Guerra, by Ivo Ferreira, 2016.

24 March, 16h – La Maison du Portugal
in the presence of Denis Leduc, son of the director Jean Leduc
Colonial Propagandas 2 (1971-73)
Beira, Porta Turistica de Moçambique (Beira, Touristic Porte of Mozambique) by Miguel Spiguel, 1973.
Le Portugal d’Outre-Mer dans le monde d’aujourd’hui (Overseas Portugal in Today’s World) by Jean Leduc, 1971.

24 March, 19h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
Deixem Me au Menos Subir às Palmeiras (Let Me at Least Climb the Palm Trees) by Joaquim Lopes Barbosa, 1973.

25 Mars, 19h – Le Saint-André-des-Arts
in the presence of Raquel Schefer, researcher, filmmaker and lecturer at Sorbonne Nouvelle University
The Murmuring Coast / A Costa dos Murmúrios by Margarida Cardoso, 2004.

30 March, 19h30 – La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin
No or the Vain Glory of Command / NON ou a Va Gloria de Mandar by Manoel de Oliveira, 1990.


José Manuel Costa

Director of the Cinemateca Portuguesa-Museu do Cinema

Since 1975 he has held several positions at the Cinemateca. He was the architect of the design and installation of the National Archives of Moving Images (ANIM), an exceptional structure for the preservation of film heritage, with an important restoration and digitization sector. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) and President of the Executive Committee of the ACE (Association of European Film Libraries). He co-founded and directed Doc’s Kingdom – International Documentary Film Seminar from 2000 to 2010. He was a professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Universidade Nova in Lisbon. He has published on the history of cinema, on Portuguese cinema and on documentary and is the author and co-author of monographs on D.W.Griffith, Robert Flaherty, Joris Ivens, Frederick Wiseman and on Chinese and Indian cinemas.

Tiago Baptista

Director of ANIM, the Cinemateca Portuguesa Conservation Centre, he is a member of the FIAF Executive Committee. He holds a PhD in Film and Screen Media from the University of London and is a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History (IHC NOVA FCSH) in Lisbon.


  • José Manuel Costa
  • Rui Machado
  • Tiago Baptista
  • Sara Moreira
  • Teresa Borges 
  • Paula Ribeiro
  • Sofia Cardoso

Manifestation organisée dans le cadre de la Saison France-Portugal 2022