~ Nationality: Portugal ~

Suspiro by Matilde César

An author-made poetry film by Portuguese photographer Matilde César. If there’s one thing poetry- and music-lovers know about Portugal, it’s the importance of saudade, “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one cares for and/or loves.” This minimalist film, with its actors like dancers trying to remember the dance, is drenched in that emotion, as the Vimeo description suggests:

Suspiro is a film born from the longing to return home. After being 10 months away from Portugal, the desire of creating something that would connect me with my homeland was big so I resorted to my language and to nature to try to find this connection. This was the result.

Director: Matilde César
Sound: Flora Nolan
Participation of: Aneesa Julmice and Flora Nolan
Poem “Suspiro”: Written and recited by Matilde César
Location: Coney Island, NYC

“Final project for my Multimedia class at NYU Tisch,” it says on her website,

On a personal note, I have been weathering a form of saudade myself for many months, thinking of my former partner in London and wondering whether I’ll ever see any of my friends there again. And I’ve been on the verge of shutting down Moving Poems more than once. But what made me want to continue with the site was remembering how much delight I’ve always gotten from finding new-to-me poets and filmmakers on the internet. I ran across Suspiro earlier this week as the result of a random search on Vimeo, and despite—or perhaps because of—the melancholic content, I did a little happy dance next to my desk. I’m back.

Constroi uma casinha / Build Me a Cottage by Fernando Pessoa

“Video poem made in a abandoned wool factory in Portugal for the museum of Guarda by Pat van Boeckel and Peter van der Pol”, says the Vimeo description. The Guarda City Museum (Museu da Guarda) is in central Portugal.

The English in the subtitles has a few problems, but the film, centered on an art installation, is so imaginative, it more than makes up for it. In fact it’s the Portuguese that’s a translation; Pessoa, who was raised in Durban, South Africa, wrote the poem in English under the heteronym Alexander Search, and the film uses a much later Portuguese translation by Luísa Freire. Pat van Boeckel notes that it’s not a well-known poem even in Portugal.

This is the third videopoem by van Boeckel that I’ve shared (here are the others). Visit his website and Vimeo page for more of his work.

Updated with more accurate information about the poem’s provenance.

Chamada Geral / Calling All by Mário-Henrique Leiria

“Calling all! A man walks free,” reads the description at ZEBRA, where this film by Manuel Vilarinho of a poem by Mário-Henrique Leiria was awarded Special Mention in the Prize for the Best Film for Tolerance. The ZEBRA website also has a short bio for Manuel Vilarinho:

Born in Portugal, 1974. Graduated in Tecnologia da Comunicação Audiovisual by IPP, Instituto Politécnico do Porto in 2004. He won several awards at video film festivals and currently works on TVI, Independent Television in Portugal.

The English Wikipedia entry for the poet is similarly brief:

Mário-Henrique Leiria (1923–1980) was a Portuguese surrealist poet. Born in Lisbon, he studied at the Escola de Belas Artes. He and his fellow surrealists were involved in an absurdist plot to overthrow the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. He is best known for his books Contos do Gin-Tonic (Gin and Tonic Tales, 1973) and Novos Contos do Gin (More Gin Tales, 1974). He died in 1980.

As Mãos / Hands by Bernardo Pinto de Almeida

The words and voice of the contemporary Portuguese poet Bernardo Pinto de Almeida are featured in this new film from Belgian filmmaker and composer Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, who writes, in part:

I used the reading on Lyrikline (Audio production: Casa Fernando Pessoa, Lisboa 2004 ) to create the soundtrack. The audio version is based on a former version of the poem before called ‘Maturidade 2’
The translation [by Ana Hudson] was used as subtitles.

Bernardo Pinto de Almeida has a natural capacity for weaving a cloth so that the poem reveals itself as if a picture of a living body on a canvas of words and images.’
(Guy Barker, British poet, 1964-2009)

Guy Barker’s quote (and the content of the poem) led me back to the footage Eduardo Yagüe made for me during the summer of 2014.
I guess I almost used every bit he filmed and am grateful for his ‘eye’

Bringing it all together was fairly easy.
I graded some of the footage for a higher contrast.
It was the flow of the reading and the pace of the music that gently steered me to the cutting choices I made. [links added]

De Dentro / From Within by Ruth Ministro

Nilson Muniz performs a work by the young Portuguese poet Ruth Ministro. Alexandre Braga directs.

from Tabacaria (The Tobacconist’s) by Álvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa)

This is Azulejo ou l’illusion visuelle, an “animated film by Kolja Saksida made in the two week workshop in Lisbon, Portugal,” according to the description on Vimeo from ZVVIKS, the Slovenian Institute for Film and Audiovisual Production. A note at the end of the film adds that it was inspired by a painting on tiles representing Lisbon before the great earthquake of 1755.

The film includes just the first four lines of the poem in the soundtrack, with a French translation in titling. Here’s the English translation given in the description:

I am nothing.
I’ll never be anything.
I can not want to be anything.
Apart from this, I have in me all the dreams of the world.

This is one of the poems Pessoa wrote under the “heteronym” of Álvaro de Campos. Here’s the complete, much longer text and here’s one blogger’s attempt at a translation.

Inscrição (Inscription) by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Director Cine Povero notes:

A poem by Portuguese writer Sophia de Mello Breyner (1919-2004)
Read by Natália Luiza (“Ao Longe os Barcos de Flores”)
Music: “Guidemebytheshiplights, part 2” by Matt Stinton

Filmed at Terra Nostra Park (São Miguel Island, Azores) and Sintra National Park (Portugal).

To sample more of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen‘s work in English translation, see the Poetry International website.

Um fiapo de homem (An excuse for a man) by Nereu Afonso

This is FIAPO, a short poetry film available in multiple languages and with its own Facebook page. The poet, Nereu Afonso, is credited with the screenplay and also stars in the film. Alexandre Braga directs. The description at Vimeo and Facebook reads,

Um homem só, palavras de um homem só…
O que dizer? Como dizer e para quem dizer quando o silêncio à sua volta lhe parece portador de mais sentido?
O que é mais lúcido? O que é mais absurdo? Falar ou calar?
Esta é a terceira experiência criativa de Alexandre Braga e Nereu Afonso. Talvez não trará respostas. Contentar-se-á em lançar perguntas. Perguntas presas num último fiapo… no qual poderíamos nos agarrar.

Google Translate renders this as follows:

A man, a man only words …
What to say? How to say and who to tell when the silence around him seems to carry more meaning?
What is more lucid? What is more absurd? Speak or be silent?
This is the third creative experience of Alexandre Afonso Braga and Nereus. It may not bring answers. Content will be to launch questions. Questions lint trapped in the last … in which we cling.

(Hat-tip: the Video and Film Poetry group on Vimeo)

Eu (não) me resigno (I (don’t) give up) by Fernando Pessoa

Alexandre Braga directed this film for BASE Comunicação Audiovisual, who uploaded it to Vimeo:

From the poetry of Fernando Pessoa, this visual message proposes a moment of introspection and places us in a universe of thought: The man, once again trying to reach the divine.

All this happens in a kind of sanctuary: The top of the highest mountains in a small island in the middle of the Atlantic.

Of particular interest to me here was the way the filmmaker went beyond the usual subtitle approach for the English translations of each line, and integrated them into the film as text animations, resulting in one of the more thoroughly bilingual poetry films I’ve seen.

Voz, sempre a mesma (Voice, always the same) by Catarina João

Catarina João includes an English translation in her description at Vimeo:

Traditional animation, charcoal on paper

Short animation based on a poem:

Voice, always the same
Semi-open window
Fly feet

This is wonderfully mysterious, but i think the translation could stand to be tweaked a little:

Voice, always the same
Half-open window
The feet of a fly

At the time to set the table, we were five, by José Luís Peixoto

Update: this video is on longer online.

A simple yet affecting video for the poem “Na hora de pôr a mesa, éramos cinco” by the contemporary Portuguese novelist and poet José Luís Peixoto. Gustavo Santos has uploaded two versions, the other without English subtitles.

Urgentemente (Urgently) by Eugénio de Andrade

A poem by Portugal’s greatest living poet, Eugénio de Andrade. This was uploaded by Bloqs de Lletres, so I’m assuming the video is by Josep Porcar, as their others are.

Here’s an English translation by Alexis Levitin:


It’s urgent — love.
It’s urgent — a boat upon the sea.

It’s urgent to destroy certain words,
hate, solitude, and cruelty,
some moanings,
many swords.

It’s urgent to invent a joyfulness,
multiply kisses and cornfields,
discover roses and rivers
and glistening mornings — it’s urgent.

Silence and an impure light fall upon
our shoulders till they ache.
It’s urgent — love, it’s urgent
to endure.

(from Forbidden Words)