The last three days, I’ve been attending the Small cinemas, small spaces conference at the University of Lisbon. The organizing team (Filipa Rosário, Inês Ponte, Mariana Liz and Pedro Figueiredo Neto) did a great job in facilitating discussions on various matters of space in the cinemas of small nations, with presentations considering representations, industries and audiences.
Quite remarkable for me was the presence of Belgian cinema in the conference: Philippe Meers’ (University of Antwerp) keynote discussed the national cinema concept from a Belgian perspective, thereby focusing on young Flemish film audiences, Michael Gott (University of Cincinnati) talked about the family as a metaphor in francophone Belgian cinema, and my own presentation focused on national identity and Belgian cinema in general. A sign of ‘Belgian cinema’ becoming a kind of research field?
A highlight of the conference was the screening of Cães sem coleira (Dogs without a leash, 1997) at the Cinemateca Portuguesa, followed by a Q&A with director Rosa Coutinho Cabral and the documentary’s protagonist António Feliciano. The extremely self-reflexive film tells the life story of Feliciano, who has been a film exhibitor in Southern Portugal since the 1960s up until the present day. While writing a history of Portuguese film and cinema culture, this little gem also examines questions of truth and memory, and how film relates to these concepts.
Pictures by Mariana Liz