The biographical film about the painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, entitled “Amadeo”, will premiere on January 26, 2023, in theaters. The film was made with the support of the Cinema and Audiovisual Institute, RTP, the Tourism and Cinema Fund and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The feature film, whose subtitle is “The man who painted the future”, portrays the rise of the painter born in Amarante and the process of creating his greatest works. The cast of this biographical film includes Rafael Morais, in the role of the artist, Eunice Muñoz, as Amadeo's grandmother, and Rogério Samora, in the role of José Emygdio de Souza-Cardoso, the painter's father.
Modern from the start, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (1887-1917) was an unmistakable artist in the Portuguese artistic scene of the 20th century, for having incorporated elements of the new artistic movements into his painting: Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism and Abstractionism. His work, full of references, from African art to the rigor of Japanese works, is distinguished by the use of strong colors and exuberant graphics. In 1913, he was selected to participate in the emblematic Armory Show exhibition in the United States, where he exhibited alongside Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, Monet, among other painters. In Portugal, he was a member of the Orpheu group and established partnerships with artists with similar artistic and political paradigms, such as Almada Negreiros and Santa Rita Pintor.
Tell us how this lifelong passion for cinema began.
A: It started even before I was a teenager, maybe at age 10, when I saw Steven Spielberg's “ET – the extraterrestrial” at the cinema. Suddenly, I felt in my life, in my imagination, in my heart the power those images had and how they fed me beyond the cinema hall. The miracle of cinema was not only in the illusion of the big screen, but in what was transformative in our lives. And so began a deeply emotional relationship that evolved into an idea of life. I wanted to live inside the cinema. I wanted, therefore, to make films and provoke in others that miracle that I felt.
How did the idea and interest in portraying the life of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso in the movie?
A: In the next installment of the films “Florbela” and “Al Berto”, I wanted to close the trilogy I had proposed with one more character that involved me personally, that is, whose path had something that intersected with me, with my way of living. to be, to think, to be. To see art and the future, life and creation. Amadeo was one of those people but he wasn't on my immediate list to shoot. Let's say it became unavoidable when I bought his photobiography after visiting an exhibition in Porto in November 2016. There was in his posture, in his look, a challenge, a courage that bewitched me in such a way that I couldn't imagine not making a film about that boy who dies at the age of 30 with a work so overwhelming, so modern, so challenging.
The historical fiction feature film is structured in 3 times/episodes of life. What was the process like until you established this timeline?
R: After studying and researching a lot about the life of the painter from Manhufe, I decided on a kind of triptych: three moments that defined the person Amadeo and that allowed us to glimpse how the artist Souza-Cardoso was built. 1916 will forever remain a wonder year, when Amadeo organizes the first major modernist exhibitions in Portugal, bringing together all of his work to date, aged 28, in an unprecedented act of bravery; 1911, in Paris, when one night at his home, by candlelight, he shows his first works as a painter to a group of artists who at that time were defining modernism, without forgetting the presence of his great friend and associate Modiglianni, who shared with him the idea of the exhibition and where showed its famous heads. And finally 1918, the year of death, of the pandemic, the year of physical disappearance and, in a way, artistic disappearance. There are three decisive moments to approach him.
Discover something new about the artist Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso?
A: I discovered courage, marginality, the possibility of ambiguity, contradiction. A complete artist, like a galaxy, where everything is possible. Everything. Amadeo refused and abhorred being shelved in a style or capacity. He was everything and nothing, bigger and smaller, revolutionary and conservative, old and brand new, he wanted to shelter life and painting in all its expansion and possibility.
What were the biggest challenges in the production and shooting of this film?
A: The biggest challenges were, without a doubt, reproducing his atelier and his works that can be seen by anyone, whether at the CAM of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, or in Amarante, at the museum that bears his name. Even the atelier can be visited in Manhufe. There is a graphic side, very visual, which allows anyone to identify his work, his presence, therefore, reproducing the works, namely the 114 works exhibited at the Exhibition in Porto in 1916 (and which we reproduced) was the greatest of all challenges. Thanks to Artur Pinheiro, our art director and researcher Marta Soares, everything went for the best.
How did the filming go?
A: It was a very intense five and a half weeks, after two years of preparatory work, it was a very happy time because we had a very dedicated team and a very cohesive cast, who had already come from an artistic residency and who perfectly understood the delicacy and opportunity to make this film. Amadeo was a very strong presence on the plateau. The difficulties of recreating 1916, Paris, a pandemic (at the time we had no idea what was going to happen to us. We finished filming on December 18, 2019, 3 months away from being closed at home because of Covid-19), it was a meticulous process, but these projects are really worth it for that very reason.
What is your opinion about Portuguese cinema?
A: I don't know if I have an opinion about Portuguese cinema. I do have a tremendous desire for cinema made in the Portuguese language to continue to flourish, where the diversity of imaginaries can co-exist, that the professions based on its production have conditions and more social protection and where what prevails should be the ability to transcend, illuminate, dream and inspire the world and the future.
He has been working in the art world for some time now. What is your advice for young artists?
A: Never give up. As long as it makes sense: never give up.