Se o Cinema é uma Arma
Fradique, Janaína Oliveira, Manuela Matos Monteiro e Rita Morais
March 16, 2024

Magic, inspiration, archiving, witnessing, struggle. Since it was invented, cinema has taken on a number of roles in the world, blurring the lines between dreams and reality, and between art and life. Independent of how they are perceived, moving images have an undeniable power to change things. And this same power is the reason why cinema is so often used as an instrument for action, like a weapon. This dimension of openness and incitement to change is the premise guiding the curatorial proposal of If Cinema is a Weapon, which simultaneously reiterates and places in tension the multiple possibilities within its titular statement.

If Cinema is a Weapon, then in what way? And in what ways today? What are the formal and discursive possibilities that contemporary varieties of cinema take on, exercise and experiment with, and which can help us refelct on the aforementioned transformative power of cinema? If cinema is — as it has been historically — a tool as much for witnessing, recording and remembering as it is for intervening, then how do we invoke, today, that relationship between cinema and resistance, and between cinema and life? This programme is based on an invitation made by Batalha Centro de Cinema, which provided the title as a stimulus for reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the April Revolution, in close dialogue with the present and the world.

For that reason, the programme further draws on reflections regarding a broad set of values proposed by April, exploring their renewal, enactment and failure, and their echoes around the world. The selected films seek to test the limits imposed by concepts like borders and Western identity, defying the politically- and socially-imposed silences established by countries trying to leave their colonial, nationalist or fascist histories behind. Out of those winds of revolution and the promise they offered to a country hitherto closed off from the world by its colonial and fascist regime, what remains, what is active, what was left out, and what is at risk? Some of April’s values have dissipated in a Portuguese society that, wedded to the myth of the nation-state, has neglected the fundamental struggles of earlier resistance movements, leaving behind the development of central themes such as feminism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, the environment, and solidarity with oppressed people around the world.

From these winds of Revolution and the values of April, the programme passes on to embrace memory, the land and various social movements, with a broad perspective that aims to show different aesthetics, contexts, periods and territories. From one school in Porto to another in Ceará, passing through an epic musical panorama of colonialism in the Caribbean — the utter classic West Indies by Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo — we further explore visions of the present and future in contemporary Brazil and echoes of colonialism and dictatorship in Chile. We highlight the confrontation between generations and ideas in the busy streets of Hong Kong, and the heated debates at a university film club in Nigeria against the backdrop of a student housing crisis and a spike in police violence. This programme thus acts as a potent reminder of the unmatched power of cinema for intervention and change.

The programme also includes two sessions of short films. In Memories Without Surrender, poetic cinema emerges as a powerful weapon against silence, and reveals the fragility of memory. In societies marked by dictatorship, war and slavery, the works of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, João Vieira Torres and Tiffany Sia offer the frontline transformative aesthetic perspectives by looking deep into the archives. These filmmakers embrace the duality of cinema as both instrument of resistance and remedy, challenging the present and instigating profound personal reflections about historical change.

Then, in the session Palestinian Visions, the works of Larissa Sansour and Jumana Manna come together in tales that are both historical and futurist, providing incisive perspectives on a theme that sees the curators echo worldwide demands for an immediate ceasefire and a stop to the genocide being perpetrated in Gaza.

In this same critical sphere, the screening-performance Code Names, by Maryam Tafakory, brings together a series of films by the Iranian director with a reading-performance that is always in flux. Maryam draws on the Iranian film archive created following the 1979 revolution to reflect on relevant contemporary questions, namely those related to women, violence and censorship. However, the power of Tafakory’s work resides in its vital invocation somewhere between the political and the poetic, the overt and the intimate, shaped by a recontextualisation of cinema itself, in a game between the visible and the invisible, the hidden and the veiled, and whose strongest expression is indeed the ephemeral character of the performance itself.

If Cinema is a Weapon is a programme developed collectively by Rita Morais, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Janaína Oliveira and Fradique, composed of films that, in different ways, speak to and, often, struggle with the contexts in which they were made, with the world, and with the film canon itself.


Angolan filmmaker living in Berlin. Director and screenwriter of "Independência" (2015) and "Ar Condicionado" (2020). His films delve into dystopian worlds, exploring themes such as memory, mourning and social justice. He is a member of Science New Wave and Film Independent. As a film curator, he is currently on the committee of the Berlinale Panorama section and the Cologne African Film Festival. In 2023, he was awarded the SFFILM Sloan Science in Cinema Fellowship and is developing his new feature film "Hold the Time for Me".

Janaína Oliveira

Film researcher and curator. Professor at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ) and consultant for JustFilms - Ford Foundation. She has a PhD in History and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Howard University Centre in the USA. Since 2009, she has been developing research and curating films, as well as working as a consultant, jury member and lecturer at various film festivals and institutions in Brazil and abroad. Currently, as well as taking part in other curatorial initiatives, she is a member of the BlackStar Film Festival Selection Committee, the Doc's Kingdom advisory board and the Criterion Channel curatorial board.

Manuela Matos Monteiro

She was a teacher and is the author and co-author of books on psychology, psychosociology, pedagogy and project methodology. She co-ordinated the NETPROF - Portuguese Teachers' Club website and directed the magazine 2:PONTOS. Has been developing photographic work since the 1970s and his work has been recognised in national and international exhibitions and competitions. Has been a jury member for photography and video competitions/festivals. Since 2013, with J. Lafuente, has ran the MIRA FORUM and Espaço MIRA galleries and, since April 2017, the MIRA | performing arts gallery. In addition to her authorial work in photography, she has curated several exhibitions at MIRA and outside the structure. Together with João Lafuente, she is the curator of the Lamego and Vale do Varosa Photography Biennial.

Rita Morais

Film director and programmer. With a Master's degree from the Artists' Film & Moving Image MA at Goldsmiths, University of London, she is a member of Cooperativa Laia, a support structure for artistic creation, and Laboratório da Torre, an analogue film laboratory run by artists in the city of Porto. Co-directs Miragem - cinematic art in the landscape, on the island of Pico, Azores. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues and festivals such as Open City Docs (London, UK); Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (Berwick, UK) Rockaway IFF (New York, USA), S8 - Mostra de Cinema Periferico (A Coruña, ES), SIM Gallery (Reykjavik, IS), A.P.T. Gallery (London, UK), among others.

Batalha Centro de Cinema

Praça da Batalha, 47
4000-101 Porto

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