Mónica Martins Nunes
Portugal, Germany, 38 min
Beneath the harvest sun and the cicada song, Mónica Martins Nunes builds a touching portrait of Serra de Serpa, an arid region in the south of Portugal affected by rural exodus. The poems sung by the shepherds and market traders resonate like the last gesture of a human landscape which resists sinking into oblivion.
By getting closer to the figure of her deceased grandfather, to whom the film is dedicated, Mónica Martins Nunes sets off to discover the last inhabitants of Serra de Serpa, an arid region in Lower Alentejo, in southern Portugal. Once divided into “sortes”—parcels of land meant for a single cereal crop—, the region has since fallen victim to industrial agriculture and rural exodus. The young director imbues her account with gentle rhythm, contemplating landscapes of breath-taking beauty and sharing with us the peaceful pleasure of the chance encounters. Thanks to the moving complicity of the inhabitants, the film explores the territories of memory. From this art of storytelling emerge poems and tales of the past, evoking the harshness of traditional trades and the disappearance of farms and “montes”, those earthen houses see to be returning to their original state. Time stands still, the camera wanders around gracefuly, showing us how the daily life of the last inhabitants and their profound attachment to this land still go on.