Letters from War / Cartas da Guerra

(Fiction, Portugal, 2016, 105', BW, Fr ST)

by Ivo Ferreira

with Miguel Nunes, Margarida Vila-Nova, Ricardo Pereira, João Pedro Vaz, Simão Cayatte, Orlando Sérgio

Letters from War


In 1971 António Lobo Antunes, a military doctor on the front in Angola, wrote letters to his pregnant wife, which were published later in 2005. His experience in the colonial army inspired him to write The Back of Judas (1979), the first Portuguese novel on this war.


“For a long time I wanted to make a film about the colonial war but I didn’t want a film of blood and sweat, when I read the letters of Lobo Antunes, I knew I had found what I was looking for.” Ivo Ferreira

The film, with a magnificent photograph of João Ribeiro, accompanied by the woman’s voice-over reading the letters, displays all the absurdity felt by soldiers who fought against a ghostly enemy, elusive and undoubtedly unstoppable. From their perspective, the story appropriates a hidden collective memory. The cruelty and horror of the colonial war, the confusion of his comrades, gave rise to a political consciousness in the young doctor. He is also marked by the failure of his attempts to exchange with the villagers he treats, with a little orphan whom he collects but who will return to his tribe. The only African with whom a relationship is formed and through whom he can perceive a little of the reality of the Angolan people, is a flecha, a soldier of the African elite corps in the front line in the battles against the separatist guerrillas.

Film Author :

Ivo Ferreira
Ivo Ferreira

Ivo Ferreira was born in 1975 in Lisbon to actor parents. At the age of 18, having barely begun his film studies, he left for Macao, then on the eve of being integrated into the People’s Republic of China. He lived there for nearly twenty years and made several short and medium films. From the Sino-Portuguese city, the perspective is different on the history of the Lusitan empire. He made his first feature-length fiction film Em Volta (2001) in Africa and the East and then documentaries in Angola and São Tomé. Hotel Império (2019), his latest feature film, is a kind of farewell to Macao…“But I always go back to it”. Contemporary history inspires many of his achievements. Aguas Mil (2009) evokes the disillusionments of the left in the years following the “Carnation Revolution”, a subject he will again address in 2022 with a film about the terrorist group FP 25. Letters from War, in competition at the Berlinale 2016, made him known to the general public and won 9 Sophia Awards, Portuguese equivalent of the Césars. His qualities as a director and director of actors are also excellent in Sul (2019), a Lisbon series, quite dark, which was met with great success.

Go to Top