Pedro Costa is hardly a household name, even in a household containing a cinephile. However, this Portuguese filmmaker may be making his way to the surface of worldwide notoriety with the critical success of Colossal Youth at the Cannes Film Festival and significant changes in distributors of his back-catalogue.
While the good folks in the Film/Video department were finalizing details of screening Colossal Youth, I was on vacation pouring over my new copy of Cinema Scope discovering Pedro Costa. The current issue contains an introduction of Costa as well as an extensive interview and a blissful review of Colossal Youth. Mark Peranson’s opening paragraph to the interview is hard to ignore:
“ To say that Pedro Costa is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers might sound like a provocation. But I have said it, and will repeat it: Pedro Costa is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, at the very least one of the most relevant, and there is nothing willfully perverse in my statement. Final judgment should be left up to the audience–to whom Costa yields so much–and can only follow from seeing his films. Watching Costa’s work gives me the chills; it’s a most mysterious, unusual, and unclassifiable oeuvre, one littered with ghosts of the past and the present.”
In a later article summarizing the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Peranson says this about Colossal Youth (in comparison to Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales):
“ Just as misunderstood, Pedro Costa’s cryptic Colossal Youth has a similarly Rivettian narrative, with possible unmotivated flashbacks, probable ghosts, and drawn-out scenes that appear improvised (some may be, but considering Costa rehearsed and rehearsed, then shot a total of 320 hours over 15 months, with each scene having as many as 30 takes, I expect that the words were carefully chosen). As opposed to Kelly, Costa lets these scenes play out very much in real time (a style noticeably lacking in most of the rest of the Competition). And he doesn’t try to connect them–the film is kind of like a Surrealist assemblage, where the pleasure is found in the coincidences between what appear to be random, unconnected episodes.”
Wow. If Peranson’s earlier description of Pedro Costa being one of the world’s greatest filmmakers didn’t have me hooked, this did. Pick up the magazine and go see the movie.