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
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.