The Pedro Costa event: In Vanda's room, 20 years on

In Vanda’s Room

No quarto da Vanda
Dans la chambre de Vanda

Pedro Costa

2000PortugalGermanySwitzerland170 minColour


The film accompanies Vanda, a drug addict, in Lisbon’s Fontainhas district, which is being demolished while its residents watch on helplessly.


PRINT SOURCE: Les Bookmakers,

Vanda is in the centre of her room and stays there for a long time, just as she is at the centre of the film, and for a long time. She is filmed almost constantly in a relatively wide static frame by a camera that never comes too close, shows no detail, does not fragment, does not cut up – so does nothing to “dramatise” or even “signify” or “recount”. There is nothing to say, nothing to tell, nothing to show. What happens in this room, in this death chamber, has nothing to do with the gaze. On the contrary, it shows all the impotence of the gaze, the defeat of the visible in the face of passing time and the workings of death. No gaze can stop time or death. I find myself a spectator not so much of what is visible – Vanda slowly burning her life away, these small flames that she passes to and fro under the silver paper heating the powder –, as a spectator without a spectacle, a spectator of what takes place and is shown without being “visibly shown”, without necessarily having to or being able to be seen: the extremely slow gesture that death makes when offering its hand to this young woman lying in an unmade bed.
–Jean-Louis Comolli (Images documentaires n°44, 2002)

  • PRODUCTION : Contracosta Produções, Ventura Film, Instituto Português da Arte Cinematográfica e Audiovisual, Pandora Filmproduktion
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