If you took the time to blink at all in the last couple of months, you likely missed some pretty awesome production news: Miguel Gomes is making a film called Tabu. Gomes’ sophomore film Our Beloved Month of August tore up the high-arthouse circuits beginning with its 2008 Directors’ Fortnight premiere, finally hitting limited North American screens in 2010 via FiGa Films before succumbing to what will surely be a protracted life of being worshipped by a small, vocal following. See, Our Beloved is the kind of rigorous, stream-of-conscious essay film on filmmaking, music, performance, and Argentinian folkiness that is simultaneously impossible to advertise, and impossible to dismiss. My initial viewing left me frustrated, bewildered, and enthralled in its docu-fiction, reality-music video tailspin, and I’ve been starving for his next turn, if only to find out where in the world he could go next.
With filming set to wrap in Spring sometime, a Cannes premiere for Tabu is pretty unlikely, which sets it up for a Venice slot. Given the experimental nature of Gomes’ work, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it end up in the Horizons sidebar there. The film is being handled by The Match Factory for sales, and is being filmed in Portuguese.
Gist: An elderly woman with a temper lives in a Lisbon apartment with her Cape Verdean maid. On the same floor lives one of her neighbours, who is devoted to ‘social causes’. The old woman’s death opens a door into a past of love and crime in an Africa “straight from the world of adventure films.” While this is obviously not a direct remake of Murnau’s 1931 classic, the title likely is meant to pay homage to it in some way, perhaps with the role of the maid?
Worth Noting: Despite having made only two features and a handful of shorts, Gomes has recently been honoured by retrospectives in the Viennale, Argentina’s Bafici. and Centro de Artes e Imaxes da Corunja in Spain.
Do We Care?: Simply put, Miguel Gomes is one of the most exciting new auteurs working right now, and is part of the important Portuguese triptych (along with Pedro Costa and João Pedro Rodrigues) of visionary and challenging filmmakers who push the boundaries that define ‘cinema’. Tabu sounds like a great narrative form for him to take, with plenty of room for play in the time jumps and location shifts promised in the plot.