Vitalina Varela

Vitalina Varela

Dir : Pedro Costa / 124 mins / Portugal / Portugese / 2019

SYNOPSIS

Vitalina Varela had spent all her life working the land in the mountains of the Island of Santiago, Cape Verde. She was the youngest of eight brothers and sisters and she married her first love, Joaquim, a boy from the same village, of Figueira das Naus. Like most Cape Verdean young men, Joaquim left his country, in 1977, with the promise of work as a bricklayer. Like all Cape Verdean girls, Vitalina remained, waiting and longing for a happy life. With his first money saved, Joaquim buys a brick and plate shack in the neighborhood of Cova da Moura, in the suburbs of Lisbon. He writes one or two letters to Vitalina, and calls her promising a plane ticket to come join him in Portugal. In 35 years, Joaquim will only return to Cape Verde twice. During his first stay, Joaquim and Vitalina begin building a house near the chapel of their home village. During his second, as soon as he arrives, he claims he must see a cousin in the north and takes the first plane back to Lisbon. This was the last time Vitalina saw him. He never wrote or called again. Over this final visit Vitalina became pregnant with a boy, Bruno, who Joaquim will never know. Vitalina and Joaquim already had a daughter, Jessica, born in 1996. Every other night he’s seen wandering and stumbling in the dark alleyways of Cova da Moura. Rumor has it that he stabbed a fellow mason in a fight over some shady business. He misses work, his colleagues lose his trail, they knock on his door, but he never answers. He dies on June 23rd, 2013 and is buried the on 27th. Vitalina arrives in Portugal on the 30th. Nobody knows her in the neighborhood, no one comforts her, everyone turns a suspicious eye. Vitalina spends countless days and nights locked in Joaquim’s shack. She barely survives the pain and the nightmares. A few months pass and she manages to find one or two jobs as a cleaning lady. In a high society mansion, they fire her without pay. She’s hired to clean the Zara shops in a giant mall. She gets 5 € an hour. One morning there’s a knock on her door: she’s afraid it might be the police or the Immigration Officials. It was Pedro Costa, looking for a house to shoot a scene for the film Horse Money.

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