An Outpost of Progress / Posto Avançado do Progresso

(Fiction, Portugal, 2016, 120', C, Fr ST)

by Hugo Vieira da Silva

with Nuno Lopes, Ivo Alexandre, David Caracol

An Outpost of Progress


Two whites, dressed in the uniform of the white colonial settler, arrive in the Congolese jungle to manage an ivory trafficking post, on behalf of a company in Lisbon. Facing the almost burlesque duo, the Congolese foreman Makola holds the post and the employees, whatever the leaders. Ivory is scarce, trading is failing, the warring tribes are threatening. Makola becomes the master of the game. The two Portuguese, not understanding anything about the natural environment or the Congolese that they rub shoulders with, go astray in the forest and the deadly madness.


By adapting the homonymous story (1897) of Joseph Conrad, the filmmaker adds sequences inspired by his research during his long stay in the Congo and by his exchanges with the Bakongos. In the night jungle, the majestic and beautifully dressed King and Queen of the Congo appear. Ancestors are witnesses of history. “Ghosts are emerging from the forest of our pent-up memory, our historical amnesia, which continues to this day.” The plasticity of reality, characters and situations is accentuated by light and colour treatments. The real and the unreal mingle, the temporalities coexist.

« Africa is a ghost that haunts my generation, born after April 25 and African independence, and marked by memory repression. But in Portugal, there are still many traces of the Salazar and colonial heritage.» Hugo Vieira da Silva

Film Author :

Hugo Vieira da Silva
Hugo Vieira da Silva

Hugo Vieira da Silva, born in 1974 in Porto, studied cinema in Lisbon and then in Berlin. He directed documentaries and three feature films. Body Rice (2006), brings together three teenagers, one German and two Portuguese, in an enclave in Alentejo, which becomes a physical and mental desert. The film won Special Mention in Locarno and several other awards. Swans (2011), shot in Berlin, is presented at the 2011 Berlinale Forum. Hugo lived in Berlin for 9 years and has been living in Vienna for several years. «Distance allowed me to look at Portugal differently, its identity, its history». An Outpost of Progress, one of the very few Portuguese films about expansion in Africa at the end of the 19th century, plays on colonial contradictions and the ambiguous relations between colonists and colonized, between Europeans and Africans. His short film La Perfection (2020) puts European myths to the test. Currently, he is preparing Loin de la route, which examines the ambiguous relationship between Victor Segalen and Paul Gauguin, a relationship that the writer forged during his journey to Tahiti in the footsteps of the recently deceased painter.

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