Music is very important for the rhythm of the film and for yourself, as your background is in the music scene. You've worked in dance, music, visual, plastic and radio arts under the name Batida. Contemporary Lisbon labels, like PRÍNCIPE, that release music by Lisbon's African diaspora, are paid homage to in the film. Could you talk about the musical connections of the feature?
This happens naturally because I like to bring everyone together, even if it's just in my head. I’ve worked in radio since I was a teenager and as a kid I always used to involve all my cousins and neighbours in whatever I was doing. It’s in my nature to try to bring people together, especially in this kind of narrative, which is not exclusively mine. There are lots of things in common: a sense of being here, but not really being part of this country because there is always something off with you. Artistically speaking, to be living in Lisbon exposes you to all this diversity. This city has the potential for being unique in its synthesis between all these strong connections to Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, and mostly observing the rest of the Western world . Your body and movement are definitely more specific here because of these relations. Movement is my favourite way of expression, actually.
What is the significance of the masks - balaclavas that are worn by the characters in your film?
They are medical textiles. The characters in the movie are two friends who believe they come from somewhere else because they lost their memory. They live in the present and try to understand what’s going on around them. Because I know a bit about their personal history - at least one of them had a huge burnout and couldn’t face reality as presented. The mask acts as a defence and protection against the violence that surrounds them. It’s a very literal metaphor about being burnt and not being able to allow the skin to come into contact with the normal atmosphere. It’s a post-burn atmosphere. When you are growing up as a kid, you hope all these things will change during your lifetime, but then you realise your life is really short and eventually you can only contribute or witness slight improvements, and those improvements also end up where they were ten years ago. Two steps forward always force you to take one step back but the outcome is positive. At least we have to believe so.
What does the term “neon-colonialism”, which features in the film as well as your other works, mean?
Artistically it can be many things: me being playful. Anything in neon sounds and looks great. It’s trying to put the word colonialism on a strange medium with handwriting that I learned in primary school that still had old ways close to the former dictatorship. There’s this talk of the new Lisbon being modern and sexy and neon is sexy. I don’t like the term and I believe that the concept overlooks most of its past. I am focused on the future but it scares me to move with no context and acknowledgment, which may facilitate inhuman narratives to return. Sure, there are “new” things happening and this potential but at the same time, we are still dealing with postcolonialism, neocolonialism or neon- colonialism (being colonialist in a shiny, sexy way).