FEATURE FILMS FICTION

 

 

NOS | US. 100 min. 35mm. 2003.

 

BOCALLINO AWARD at Locarno Film Festival 2003, Switzerland

«Cláudia Tomaz focuses her camera on human feelings and pushes her characters to the limit. a film about the limits we set to ourselves, about vulnerability and human contradictions»

'Nós' places Francisco and Angela in an ambiance that oscillates between the realism of everyday routine and the dream-like power of their encounters. The film embodies the ambiguous and contradictory feelings of the two characters by prioritizing images over words, and silence over language.

Francisco and Angela are survivors, but solitude in the big city is difficult to bear. In the film people's path is dramatically marked by an emotional evolution that progressively takes them towards catharsis. The light, the colors, the size of the sets, the music, the sound design and editing, all reflect this inner progression. The creation of pleasure and entertainment places, such as the performances arenas that were created and purpose-built for the film, are also the expression of and the possibility for the characters' dramatic change. The bringing together of these two solitary beings reveals the twisting paths of their inner life.

Written, directed and edited by Claudia Tomaz.

 

This is an excerpt / scene of Nos / Us.

«A film about solitude, the difficulties of communication and the search for love, Nós places Francisco and Angela in an ambiance that, according to Cláudia Tomaz, oscillates «between the realism of everyday routine and the dream-like power of the encounters of these two characters». Free after six years in prison, Francisco decides to change and fight. After a few days spent living in the subway, he rents a room and starts working at a construction site. Forlorn, he puts an ad on the Internet - «man seeks woman to talk» - and meets the serious, shy and unhappily married Angela. She works in a big hotel with her friend Maria, who is young, exuberant, full of life and performs in erotic shows at night to make ends meet.

Inspired by the photographs of Nan Goldin, the paintings of Francis Bacon - «because of the colors, the flesh and the sexual violence between the characters» - and by the music of Lydia Lunch that provides the basis for the choreography in one of the bars - Arena - the filmmaker embodies the ambiguous and contradictory feelings of the two characters by prioritizing, as she did in her first film Noites, images over words. And silence over language.

To give «density» to this silent, Claudia worked systematically the sound, substituting «the dirty and strident sound ambience of the town for a more delicate and softer sounds», which provides the viewer, as it does the characters, with an enveloping «sensory» experience. As for the visuals, they concentrate on the protagonist’s torment: loneliness, filmed for the most part in static shots, their difficulties in talking to one another, expressed to the wide open and almost colorless places they meet in, matched by the scenes in bars which are darker and more dynamically edited.»

In Locarno International Film Festival catalog

«The city. The solitude. The desire. The thing is not new, but Cláudia Tomaz, with these three elements and an implosive energy, shot an urban story, the kind that can only sprout of the deepest value of a film director soul. Cláudia Tomaz is an artist. If in her previous film NIGHTS she opened tracks, now she supplanted herself and offered us a total, frontal film.

US doesn’t need moral judgments to makes us go inside the characters. Tomaz's camera is enough to make the rhythm and the assembly of the time right. Unconsciously, already we adhere to the psychological state of this couple separated by the silence, joined for a fight against the daily-life solitude.

All this is filmed with a singularity which breaks our heart.»

Rui Pedro Tendinha

in the News Magazine Nov 23rd 2003

«Portrait of solitude in the big city, “US”, the second feature film from the film director Cláudia Tomaz, is also a sensual trip of a couple who meet each other through an internet add, around a re-invented Lisbon. A passage of contained emotions and hot desires between a former-prisoner and a married woman, “US” is one of the best Portuguese films of the last years.»

Jose Vieira Mendes,

in Première, Dec. 2003

«Cláudia Tomaz re-invents Lisbon. each shot of “US “starts by refusing the evidence of the spaces (...)  ”US” shows Lisbon as a space where layers of times and other cities co-exist. It is as if it disclosed the indications of an invisible city, something that has a parallel existence. As if in one image we could discover other overlapping images and existences.»

Vasco Câmara

in Público, Nov 28th 2003

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"this is the best Portuguese film of the last years, by far. Cláudia Tomaz takes account of all emotions, packs them and follows the bodies into a total trance. It gives chills, makes us feel goose bumps, more, it questions us about our inner perceptions of solitude. Literally we are lead into new zones. The invitation for these new areas comes through an immense flirt»

Rui Pedro Tendinha

in Noticias Magazine, Oct 5th 2003

«One Portuguese movie that imposes its force; Cláudia Tomaz possess, over all, sculptor eye. Here, the spine is distinguished from the body, instead of the meat, as it happens in other films, and the remaining portions of love are transformed into daggers in full heart»

Philippe Azoury

in Libération, France, Aug 16th 2003

«Full of upright, Cláudia Tomaz works in US (her second feature film after NIGHTS), the figure of the distance. Distance between what we believe to see since the first shot (a great hotel?) and what we see truly (a prison, from where Francisco gets free); unbearable distance between the bodies laid side by side, closed zone of the injured love; distance between the claustrophobic quotidian of our laborious lives and the Dionysian world of our pulses. But the most fascinating of these distances are those that the director negotiates skillfully since the moment where we anticipate the sequence that will become of this ballad of the sexual dependency. In the end of the passage only the infinite solitude coats with unavoidable character.»

Bertrand Loutte

in Les Inrockuptibles, Aug 27th 2003

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Using images of US I re-edited and remixed a few sequences to create this music video for Flore in 2010.

NIGHTS

NIGHTS. feature film. 73 min.  35mm. 2000.

BEST FILM AWARD CRITICS WEEK Venice Film Festival 2000, Italy

NOMINATED FOR BEST FILM Gijon Film Festival 2000, Spain

Set in Lisbon in a slum in demolition, NIGHTS is a simple story turned into a raw and chilling film, a fiction shot as a documentary.

 

Written, directed and edited by Claudia Tomaz.

«Her cinema is made in this acute way of seeing, however, soft, that captures Life, in a no-man's land, between real and fiction»

Maria Leonor Nunes

in JL, September 20th, 2000

«Released in Portugal last Friday, after wining the Week’s Critic Award of Venice Film Festival of this year, Nights comes to confirm (and to project) the cinematic personality of Cláudia Tomaz, defining her, for now, as the only Portuguese director of her generation for whom cinema appears less as a question of “stories” but more as a problem of perception. An admirable first-film»

 

João Mário Grilo

in Vision, Set 28th 2000

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«A fearless film. Profoundly disturbing. It doesn't look like with anything ever made in portuguese cinema.

A singular film, an experience of intimate exposition, marked by love. Cinema, yes, definitely.»

Vasco Câmara

in Público Newspaper

«Can a film of complete darkness contain, although everything, a fairy tale story? It can, because if everything had happened in the normal land of the prudence and the safe withdrawals, Nights would not exist. It happened in a very difficult land, with intimate risks taken. Selected for the Festival of Venice, came from there with an award. Now is has theatrical release.

 

Who films with the intensity of Nights just deserves much sun»

Jorge Leitão Ramos

in Expresso

«One of the most radical objects of Portuguese cinema of the last years»

JL

Diário de Notícias

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2021

I received news from Portugal to say that my old film Noites had shown on tv last Saturday, and since then there's been lovely messages from new and old friends, thank you. I end up visiting my archives and memories, found a few pictures, and remembered the pioneering methods and the ways we made this... here a few stories.

We made this film in the year 2000, on a very low budget and with a very intimate crew. We worked a lot on the preparation. I had been writting and preparing this film for about 4 years and had many photos, drawings and notes. The pre-production with the crew, and finding the appropriate and ethical way to film each scene / space / people was very important too.

The photo above with the trees, is a shot of the film, in this place of trees. I used to see this place from a train and it was an adventure to find the way to it. Everytime I saw it from the train it was flooded, which gave it a lot of mystery, but possibly would make it impossible to film it with the small means we had. When we came to film, it was dry and sunny in those January days. We filmed in Winter because I wanted to capture the soft winter light.

During the pre-production we designed pocket-size scripts for everyone in the team, which made it easy to carry around and somehow was a symbol of the simplicity, creativity and authenticity we worked in.

The next pic it's our team in action, small and close, working like an organism.

The way we organized the shooting was to film first all the scenes that were out doors, or included travelling, we were 10 people. In the second part of the shooting, we filmed all the scenes inside the house, we were mainly 4 people: me, the actor, camera and sound. With minimal presence of a couple of assistants to organize food etc. This way we were very focused and could create the intimate atmosphere we needed. The house we filmed in was not in the slum, it belonged to my neighbour and was right next to my house, which made it very practical.

Also we had a co-operative approach and everyone in the film earned the same amount.

The next photo is the light designs by João Ribeiro (director of photography and camera). We worked in a very particular way as I wanted to use natural light as much as possible. So sometimes we would record the same scene over several days at the same time, or use only small lights for consistency and interiors. The experience in documentary of João and Armanda Carvalho (sound), and the fact that they had worked together many times, made the process very organic and I completely trusted them.

We filmed in digital video to be able to improvize with the actors and do long-shots. This was very useful also because I end up being in front of the camera (a role I had not planned, but when our actress gave up  4 days before the beginning of the shooting, I said, ok I'll do that, as we didn't have the time to train another person and we couldn't stop the process). This way, in the scenes I was in, we could film and watch the footage right after, so I could see the key moments to devellop further, and repeat more to reach the essence of each scene. In other parts of the film, the shots were quite precise, adding to the focused minimalism of the silent scenes and wanders in the city.

We edited the film at Tobis on Avid on the night shift. I guess it was cheaper to rent the studio at night! These were long nights, when the studios were really quiet and the film was slowly coming together. In those days editing rooms had no windows, so possibly it was a good thing that we could see the day light in the morning!

Then we transfered the film into 35mm, which at the time was a requirement for exhibition and distribution. At the time this process was new and not available in Portugal, so we went into a Lab in Paris to do this. First I went alone and then the director of photography came for the étallonage. I remember the moment when the film was all done and we had a private view with the french crew to make sure that everything was correct.

When the film was selected to Venice, I remember the contrast between the slum spaces in demolition we filmed in and then staying in the same hotel where 'Death in Venice' by Visconti was filmed...

This film won The best film award of the Week's Critic in Venice film festival, an award for first feature films, and went on to many festivals around the world, with theatre release and a VHS tape.

I was 26.

US CAST AND CREW. 2003

CAST: JOÃO PEREIRA. ALEXANDRA FREUDENTHAL. SUSANA VIDAL CAÑETE. PAULA MOREIRA. PATRÍCIA ANDRADE. JOÃO PATRÍCIO. ISABEL DE CASTRO. VÍTOR GONÇALVES. MONICA CALLE

CREW

Written, Directed and Edited by CLAUDIA TOMAZ

Screenplay and Casting: CLÁUDIA TOMAZ. JOÃO PEREIRA
Directors of photography: LISA HAGSTRAND. NUNO FERREIRA

Sound: EMÍDIO BUCHINHO

Sound design: CLÀUDIA TOMAZ

Sound Editor: WALDIR XAVIER

Set Design: SÉRGIO COSTA

Costumes: ROSA ALMEIDA LIMA

Coreography in Arena: CLÁUDIA TOMAZ. MONICA CALLE

1st Assistant Director: JOÃO FONSECA. BRUNO LOURENÇO

Production Manager: ANGELA CERVEIRA. JOAQUIM CARVALHO

A Co-production
MADRAGOA FILMES
GEMINI FILMS

RTP - Rádio Televisão Portuguesa

With the support of

I.C.A.M. Instituto do Cinema, Audiovisual e Multimédia

Producer: PAULO BRANCO

Portugal / France, 2003, 99', colour, Dolby SRD

Shot in Super-16. Final copy 35mm.

NIGHTS CAST AND CREW. 2000

CAST: JOÃO PEREIRA. CLÁUDIA TOMAZ. ANA BUSTORFF. JOÃO D’ÁVILA. ISABEL RUTH

Direction, Film Editing and Original Script: CLÁUDIA TOMAZ

Script Adaptation: CLÁUDIA TOMAZ, JOÃO PEREIRA

Director of Photography/Camera: JOÃO RIBEIRO

Sound: ARMANDA CARVALHO

Sound mixing: NUNO CARVALHO

Assistant Director: LUÍS PINTASSILGO

Set Decoration: CESÁRIO MONTEIRO

Production Manager: ALEXANDRE VALENTE

Producer: PAULO BRANCO

Production: MADRAGOA FILMES

 

Portugal, 2000

1:1:37, Colour

shot in DVcam - final copy 35mm - 73’