Colossal Youth

Juventude em marcha !
En avant, jeunesse !

  • Pedro Costa

  • 2005
    • France
    • Portugal
    • Switzerland
  • 155 min
  • Colour
  • PRODUCTION
  • Ventura Film, Contracosta Produções, Les Films de l'Etranger

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Abandoned by Clotilde, his wife, Ventura, a Cape Verdean labourer living in the Lisbon suburbs, is lost as he moves from his old run-down neighbourhood into a brand-new social housing flat.
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PRINT SOURCE: Pedro Costa

The Cape Verdean district of Fontainhas, in the Lisbon suburbs, is into its final days. Most of the 9,000 residents are due to be rehoused in new buildings, further north. Clotilde, who remembers the Cape Verde seas and the sharks swimming at her side, has left her 75-year-old husband, Ventura. A Cape Verdean labourer living in the Lisbon suburbs, Ventura is lost between the old run-down neighbourhood where he has been living and his new flat in a recently finished block of subsidized housing.
According to Pedro Costa, Colossal Youth is a remake of John Ford’s western-cum-procedural-drama Sergeant Rutledge (1960): in both movies, a black man with an imposing physique is called to stand tall and stand up for his millions of brothers and sisters humiliated by centuries of enslavement and racial segregation. In the former film, the colossus is Ventura, a fifty-something Cape Verdean who emigrated to Lisbon as a teenager looking for work and a better future away from Portugal’s “overseas province”, Cape Verde; in Ford’s film, 45-year-old Woody Strode plays the eponymous hero, a former slave who enlisted in the 9th U.S. Cavalry in search of dignity and integration...The very title of the film, Colossal Youth!, sounds an additional note of bitter irony when film is compared to its source of inspiration, Sergeant Rutledge: the 2006 Ventura is neither in his prime nor leading his people towards a better tomorrow....Basically, Colossal Youth is a film about an old man keeping “the family” (read: the destitute Fontainhas community) together, while the powers that be try to destroy it by bulldozing people’s “clandestine homes” (as seen in In Vanda’s Room, 2000), by scattering the now homeless across hastily built “neighborhoods for the poor”, and by legalising police brutality and forced repatriation (Tarrafal, 2007; Rabbit Hunters, 2007; Our Man, 2010). But keeping family ties alive in Lisbon in the 2000s might be far too hard a task for old Ventura alone. It is enough to drive a sane man crazy...
–Michaël Guarneri (Débordements.fr, September 2015)

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