‘Cidade’, Terratreme

The Portuguese edition of A Restless Art will be published on 9 May 2019, and we are making final corrections before the book goes to print. This edition includes six Portuguese projects not in the English edition: here is one of them.

The late-20th century transformation in how culture is produced, distributed and valued opened new routes for community arts practice. One of these is film, still a hugely popular shared culture and, in the hands of a group like Terretreme, a powerful force for social action. Terretreme was established in 2008 by six Portuguese filmmakers who felt that only by creating their own production house could they make the work they believed in. One of them was Pedro Pinho, who had combined film and social activism since the 1990s, using participatory methods to work with communities on films that represent marginalised lives and unheard voices. In 2016, with funds from the PARTIS programme, Terretreme began work on Cidade (City), a 55 minute pilot for a TV series about life in Lisbon’s poor outer districts. As well as Pinho himself, the professional team involved Leonor Noivo, João Salaviza, Filipa Reis and João Miller Guerra.

The film they worked on is fiction, not documentary. As Pinho says, ‘It’s not about a social neighbourhood—it’s about how you fell in love, how you see yourself when you’re 18 and you finish high school and you don’t know what to do’. The story emerged through co-creation within a team of professional and non-professional artists. Young people from diverse backgrounds got involved through neighbourhood workshops in acting, performance and film production. The film they made is vivid, compelling and unsentimental. At the first screening in January 2017, the young people celebrated what they had achieved with obvious pride. But Pinho is clear sighted about the limits and risks of this work, accepting that it cannot change social situations. What it can do is give people new ways of imagining themselves and their own futures, and make accessible films that reflect the Portugal of today and tomorrow.

A short film about the making of ‘Cidade’ in 2016