Happy Birthday [Film in pre-production]
Director - Tiago Melo Bento
During the summer of 1975, in the island of São Miguel a young couple, Cristina and Guilherme, are abruptly separated. The escalation of political and social unrest, set in after April 25th of the previous year, reflected a time of uncertainty between the hope for the end of the Estado Novo dictatorship and the fear of a new Soviet-like regime.
Cristina’s parents decide to send her to France where she studies and lives while Guilherme remains on the island.
Thirty years later they meet again as Cristina returns to Ponta Delgada to exhibit at a local art gallery. It happens to be her birthday.
Happy Birthday | IN PRE PRODUCTION
NOTE OF INTENT
This story unveils the imaginary and mythology of the St. Michael island community, the azorian and portuguese society forever transformed by the events that took place between 1974 and 1975. The universe
of Cinema is known for challenging the collective consciousness over time, and so, in its own way, this film intends to do exactly that by inviting several generations to explore this story together and by doing so restoring to this period the value and curiosity it deserves in our history and time.
The imagery this film is build on rests over a joyful, rebellious, innocent, often adventurous, complicit and passionate mood, while suggesting an alternative to the commonly depicted melancholy so often associated with living on the islands.
On the other hand, by the reunion of the protagonists 30 years later, Ponta Delgada’s context is that of its time in the world. A normal city, like so many other medium-sized portuguese cities but with it's own singular island dimension and social microcosmos.
Cristina, a character who returns to the island, is an artist who comes to exhibit at the invitation of a gallery, an invitation from a community of her time that claims the contemporaneity it deserves. Guilherme, the one who dreamed as big but remained behind, feels unexpectedly confronted by his past and his dormant desires, like so many do.
This moment of reunion raises universal existentialist questions, natural to this age group, whether living in the countryside or in the city, in a country or another. What makes it special is the fact it is being told from the Azores, on one of the nine small resilient islands in the middle of the huge Atlantic Ocean.
And how do you tell such a story through cinema?
Beyond narrative choices, our response from a technical point of view lies in the approaches of both the camera and the film montage, not forgetting an actor’s or actress’s work done in a realistic/naturalistic manner. An accomplishment done by taking advantage of an irreverent or creative camera style when need be, or a more conventional one when a clear understanding of the narrative is necessary. But above all by standing by and believing in a team of highly motivated and competent actors and crew, while knowing this story will finally and proudly be told to the world by all of us.