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Virtual Cinema: Vitalina Varela

A Cape Verdean woman navigates her way through Lisbon, following the scanty physical traces her deceased husband left behind and discovering his secret, illicit life.
(NR, 124 min.)

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A film of deeply concentrated beauty, acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Costa’sVitalina Varela stars nonprofessional actor Vitalina Varela in an extraordinary performance based on her own life. Vitalina plays a Cape Verdean woman who has travelled to Lisbon to reunite with her husband, after two decades of separation, only to arrive mere days after his funeral. Alone in a strange forbidding land, she perseveres and begins to establish a new life. Winner of the Golden Leopard for Best Film and Best Actress at the Locarno Film Festival, as well as an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, Vitalina Varela is a film of shadow and whisper, a profoundly moving and visually ravishing masterpiece. [Grasshopper Film]

Starring: Vitalina Varela, Ventura, Manuel Tavares Almeida
Director: Pedro Costa
Language: Portuguese
Genre: Drama

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"It’s essential cinema."

— Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

"Rich, mysterious, rigorous and generous."

— Mark Asch, Little White Lies

"A work of astonishing aesthetic beauty, made up of static compositions and use of chiaroscuro that recalls the Dutch masters."

— Christopher Machell, CineVue

"Should you surrender yourself to the film’s beautiful cinematography and whispered musings, you’ll find a breathtakingly gorgeous movie about love, death and immigration."

— Monica Castillo,

"It’s an emotional investment with rich returns. Pedro Costa’s hypnotic drama, shot superbly by Leonardo Simões, follows its heroine through a dark night of the soul into the light of a new life in a new land."

— Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

"Aligning itself with the director’s prior works, Costa’s cinematic dissertation on the impermanence of life, love as a sacrificial commitment and the existence of God requires a refined attention span and a liberal tolerance for a slow-burning narrative flow, but viewers in search of a visually masterful and emotionally desolate arthouse feature could find Vitalina Varela to be one of the most thought-provoking international features to debut in quite some time."

— Jonathan Christian, The Playlist