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Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa

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Editorial Reviews

One of the most important artists on the international film scene today, Portuguese director Pedro Costa has been steadily building an impressive body of work since the late eighties. And these are the three films that put him on the map: spare, painterly portraits of battered, largely immigrant lives in the slums of Fontainhas, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon. Hypnotic, controlled works, OSSOS, IN VANDA’S ROOM, and COLOSSAL YOUTH confirm Costa as a provocative new cinematic poet, one who locates beauty in the most unlikely of places.

OSSOS: The first film in Pedro Costa’s transformative trilogy about Fontainhas, an impoverished quarter of Lisbon, Ossos is a tale of young lives torn apart by desperation. After a suicidal teenage girl gives birth, she misguidedly entrusts her baby’s safety to the troubled, deadbeat father, whose violent actions take the viewer on a tour of the foreboding, crumbling shantytown in which they live. With its reserved, shadowy cinematography by Emmanuel Machuel (who collaborated with Bresson on L’argent), Ossos is a haunting look at a devastated community.

IN VANDA’S ROOM: For the extraordinarily beautiful second film in his Fontainhas trilogy, Pedro Costa jettisoned his earlier films’ larger crews to burrow even deeper into the Lisbon ghetto and the lives of its desperate inhabitants. With the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of a Vermeer painting, In Vanda’s Room takes an unflinching, fragmentary look at a handful of self-destructive, marginalized people, but is centered around the heroin-addicted Vanda Duarte. Costa presents the daily routines of Vanda and her neighbors with disarming matter-of-factness, and through his camera, individuals whom many would deem disposable become vivid and vital. This was Costa’s first use of digital video, and the evocative images he created remain some of the medium’s most astonishing.

COLOSSAL YOUTH: Many of the lost souls of Ossos and In Vanda’s Room return in the spectral landscape of Colossal Youth, which brings to Pedro Costa’s Fontainhas films a new theatrical, tragic grandeur. This time, Costa focuses on Ventura, an elderly immigrant from Cape Verde living in a low-cost housing complex in Lisbon, who has been abandoned by his wife and spends his days visiting his neighbors, whom he considers his “children.” What results is a form of ghost story, a tale of derelict, dispossessed people living in the past and present at the same time, filmed by Costa with empathy and startling radiance.


Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer of Ossos
  • New video conversations between Costa & Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Audio commentary for In Vanda's Room
  • Selected-scene audio commentary by critic Cyril Neyrat
  • Video interviews with critic Joao Benard da Costa
  • Video essay by artist Jeff Wall on Ossos
  • All Blossoms Again, a feature-length documentary
  • Tarrafal and The Rabbit Hunters, two short films by Costa
  • Little Boy Male, Little Girl Female, a video installation piece
  • Photographs by Mariana Viegas and Richard Dumas
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critics

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Vanda Duarte, Nuno Vaz, Mariya Lipkina, Isabel Ruth, Inês de Medeiros
    • Directors: Pedro Costa
    • Writers: Pedro Costa
    • Producers: Andres Pfäffli, Elda Guidinetti, Francisco Villa-Lobos, Karl Baumgartner, Paulo Branco
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Portuguese
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rated: Unrated
    • Studio: Criterion
    • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
    • Run Time: 425 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003152Z0O
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,082 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa" on IMDb

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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    4 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frank H. Curtis on July 9, 2010
    Verified Purchase
    Pedro Costa allows us to observe the lives of the poor of Fontainhas. It is, what it is. The hacking cough, daly drug use, mundane conversations, are repeated in different stages of family life in such poverty. The cinematography seems much to beautiful for this environment, black and white would seem more appropriate .One of the younger women in the first film is to beautiful for the part.We , as viewers, never get to leave this "ghetto". People leave for work , come home, but we stay ,with the constant coughing ,images of poverty so beautifully filmed.
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    0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marta on February 12, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    Product in good conditions and good contents. I bought it new.
    I really liked it and i recommend it a lot.
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    Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa
    This item: Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa
    Price: $79.95
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