ALL IS WELL WITH POCAS PASCOAL’S PERSONAL TALE OF EXILE
A number of films in this year’s Festival examined the theme of keeping your balance in a shifting world. They ranged from apocalyptic styled films like It’s a Disaster to border crossing tales like The Compass is Carried by a Dead Man and this year’s Narrative Award winner, All is Well.
Seeing All is Well and hearing the director, Pocas Pascoal, speak about her personal experiences upon which the film is based helped put an unsettled world into perspective.
The autobiographical film tells the story of two teenage sisters who are sent ahead of their mother to Lisbon, Portugal as the family flees the political strife of 1980’s Angola. When it is learned their mother can’t follow them, a multi-level drama unfolds as the girls come to terms with surviving on their own.
The story plays out on the screen in a powerfully authentic and realistic manner, bringing focus to what is at stake for the two sisters. Are they self-reliant enough to navigate the various people they encounter—people whose intentions are often not that clear? This film makes one wonder how they would fare under similar circumstances. But this is not just a film about survival; it is also a film about sisters and how, though raised with similar attributes, they deal with conflict in different ways.
The screening was all the better due to the presence of director Pocas Pascoal, who lived the story and was able to answer questions about the relationship of the two sisters. Considering the personal nature of the story, Pascoal was asked about casting for the two sisters. She described it as a lengthy process during which she looked for actors that had real-life experiences comparable to her own. The results are performances that have considerable weight and authenticity.
Part of the original attraction to the film was the chance to see the lovely and charming parts of Lisbon. Although this is how the film begins, the audience is quickly taken to a different section of Lisbon that tourists rarely see: down the back streets of refugee communities, along industrial river fronts. Viewers soon find themselves caught up in the struggle the two sisters face. But the hope and passion they show for life and their effort to overcome their situation is truly inspiring.
—by Jim Lichacz for Film Independent
June 24th, 2012 • No Comments