Et maintenant ?
For twenty years, Joaquim Pinto has been living with HIV and hepatitis C. Exiled in the countryside near Lisbon with his husband Nuno and their dogs, Joaquim decided to stop all his activities around cinema to follow a new protocol. A filmed diary, a reflection on a survival exceeding all the prognostics, but also on love, friendship, cinema and Portugal from the revolution through to the current crisis.
Where can you find the example, find the teaching able to rectify the path of life? The film points to nothing and, fortunately, simply meanders around. Two paths, nonetheless, that are only half-revealed. The Christian path, represented by Nuno, a Christ-like figure with the same message of peace, steeped in gospels but hostile towards bell towers. Pinto is not a believer and leaves God out of his film. Yet, he helps his lover to record the words of John and makes room for a Bible, supposedly the Book of Life but here transformed into a support emptied of the hereafter. The other path is traced by insects. What Now? opens with a slug slowly crossing the frame. It will be followed by dragonflies, bees and mantises, and reinforced by images of vegetal stalks or discreet flowers. An epiphany of the microcosm, a manifestation of the living, poles apart from man, a teeming world at our feet which Pinto contrasts with the sick desires to conquer space. Bible and beetles commune under the auspices of the infinitely renewed miracle.
There is an old legend in the West whose brilliance was highlighted by Nietzsche: only an illness that strikes you down gives access to great health, to a genuine blossoming of life, only when your failures are revealed is the world’s hidden depth revealed. It is uncertain whether Pinto subscribes to this belief, he who is trying to annihilate the imaginary that has latched onto the virus. But, taking a different path, his film ends up with a similar idea, AIDS can reveal by a process of reduction, reveal what? – not La-Vie (Life), a coarse myth, a crude trap, but rather en-vie (desire), existence traversed by intensities, a new wind of desires that have again taken on their full dimension, the germinating power of life here below.
Gabriel Bortzmeyer (Débordements.fr, 2014)
Joaquim Pinto seems to reveal, penetrate and thus enable us to see and feel the force-field of a love in a way rarely found in cinema. Then comes the miracle of a sort of contamination, a contagious process, akin to art’s derisory revenge on epidemics, inoculating our gaze with the most intense and reconciliatory of relationships to the other, to nature, to the very substance of a world perpetuating its survival. (Julien Gester)
© Rui Gaudêncio