«The Internet killed Chester Bennington», «Aunque es de noche» and «Sofia e o Gajo do Fogo» are the titles of the short films produced by Plutão de Verão – Associação Cultural and presented during the 9th Monstrare – International Film Festival Social, last January.
Directed by Diogo Simão and photographed by Ana Monteiro, the trilogy was presented on the 23rd and 24th of January, during the Algarve Film Week, in the context of the 9th Monstrare – International Social Film Festival. Produced between 2018 and 2022, these short films allowed members of the cultural association and invited professionals to work with students from secondary schools in Loulé, Faro and Figueira da Foz.
On the 23rd and 24th, the Loulé Secondary School auditorium was filled with students, teachers and guests to participate in a Q&A with some elements of the technical and artistic teams of the trilogy, as well as with Gonçalo Almeida, guest director who showed and spoke about his award-winning short film «The Girl from Saturn».
This initiative was articulated together with the Municipality of Loulé, through the Loulé Film Office and the Cultural Project of the School, in order to reinforce the activities that are being developed within the scope of the National Plan for the Arts, the National Plan for Cinema and of the Biennial of Culture and Education 2023.
Plutão de Verão – Associação Cultural, based in the Algarve region, started this project in 2018 with the ShortWeek competition.
“We challenged students from secondary schools in Loulé, Faro and, later, from Figueira da Foz, producing and presenting, as a group, a short film in one week”, recalls Diogo Simão, artistic director of Plutão de Verão.
“To prove it was possible, we produced The Internet Killed Chester Bennington with the same time and technical limits as the participants. It was a successful bet: in total, there were more than 300 subscribers who, a week after the opening ceremony, presented 50 short films. Some of these shorts were screened at other festivals and many of their creators followed higher education in cinema or theatre, even outside their region of origin”.
With the support of several entities, including the three participating municipalities and the Portuguese Institute for Youth and Sports (IPDJ), prizes were awarded in the various categories of the competition.
The jury brought together well-known theater and television faces (Salvador Nery, Anna Eremin, João de Brito, Catarina Perez, Igor Regalla, André Canário), award-winning directors (Bernardo Lopes, Justin Amorim, Flávio Ferreira, Rafael Almeida) and representatives of some entities who supported the project (Manuel Baptista, Maria da Graça Lobo, Isa Mestre).
“The number of young talents we met and their willingness to continue making cinema was contagious”, admits Ana Monteiro, director of photography and co-founder of Plutão de Verão.
“The production model that we adapted from the competition allowed us to be free of overthinking and to approach the cinematographic creation process in its purest form”, he adds.
«The Internet killed Chester Bennington», starring Sara Mendes Vicente and with the participation of young actresses Alice Velez, Beatriz Gomes, dancer Beatriz Gonçalves and musician Nuno “Kabula” Esmael, was recorded between the municipalities of Olhão and Faro, with its creative process lasting a week. It tells the story of a disenchanted photography student, who returns to her hometown for a project, only to find a reality very strange, and different, from the one she knew.
«Aunque es de noche» was co-created by five young actors participating in ShortWeek (Constança Melo, Gabriel Riley, Margarida Lucas, Salomé Rita and Tiago Leal), in a process that dragged on over several months of confinement.
“When we had confirmation of the filming location, we rehearsed all the action for a week in the Blackbox at LAMA Teatro. Miguel Martins Pessoa and Diana Bernedo, actors and directors from Janela Aberta Teatro, joined the process close to the recording dates and raised the bar during rehearsals. This short film was the first fiction film to be recorded entirely in the Salt Mine in the municipality of Loulé, at a depth of 230 meters”, confirms Diogo Simão.
The film tells the story of a group of boys and girls who were raised inside a cave. This is the day they all make irreversible decisions.
«Sofia e o Gajo do Fogo», the last film of the trilogy, was shot in two weeks in Figueira da Foz, with a technical and artistic team composed mainly of participants of the ShortWeek competition.
The creation of the narrative was shared between the young Figueirense Sofia Mendes and the experienced actor Mauro Hermínio. "When Sofia's powers to control fire are revealed in a gruesome way, she sets out to find the man with the answers she's been looking for."
According to Plutão de Verão, “the conclusion of this trilogy of short films does not seem to dictate the end of the project”.
For Pluto de Verão's artistic director, “ShortWeek proved to be more than a success from a creative and educational point of view. It is also an example of how to stimulate, in younger generations, collective critical dialogue, multidisciplinary collaboration, the use of techniques and artistic tools that perpetuate memory and disseminate the human, cultural and geographic potential of the territory”.
“The gentrification that has changed the face of the region and the brain drain (from local secondary education to higher education outside the region/country) are mirrored realities both in the scenarios and narratives of the trilogy that we presented, and in the journey of the young people who participated in these productions. Every year we miss opportunities for the development of a regional artistic language that enhances our idiosyncrasies”, says the director from the Algarve.
For this reason, stresses Diogo Simão, “Plutão de Verão will continue to work with public and private entities interested in reversing the situation. But if political decision-makers, at national and local levels, continue to alienate cultural agents and turn their backs on the strategic plans that they themselves define, this type of initiative becomes more than unsustainable: it becomes useless. We are always available to listen, but we need to be heard for any kind of serious and sustained action to be possible. Fortunately, in Loulé it is possible and the results are visible”.