Lost Room

Journey through the history of Portuguese genre cinema

Horror films never really developed in Portugal, somewhat due to the lack of conditions for the industrial development of films, but also because of the low number of genre-influenced literature, which is one of the biggest sources for cinematic adaptations.

In 2009, MOTELX decided to create a section dedicated to finding the lost roots of Portuguese Horror cinema. The main goal of the Lost Room section is to research these movies and screen them as examples of Portuguese "horror" which otherwise wouldn't be seen by most.


7-13 September 2021

Inferno (1999) by Joaquim Leitão


Once a year, ten men who fought together in Mozambique, during the Overseas War, meet in a restaurant on the outskirts of Alentejo, near the border of Portugal and Spain. On that day, Nunes, the owner, dismisses the cook, closes the place to the public and hangs a banner on the wall with the Rangers' insignia and motto: ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE. A motto that is also an implicit pact, which not all of them fulfilled and even today overshadows the relationship between them. But this time, due to the presence of a prostitute and a hunt that ends in a shooting, things will take a turn for the worse... Ten actors in a state of excellence, in particular Rogério Samora, Nicolau Breyner and the surprising Júlio César, in a film taking place in one single night and ending in a Peckinpah style shootout at the border.

20,13 (2006) by Joaquim Leitão


On Christmas Eve 1969, during the colonial war, a patrol returned to the Portuguese army barracks in Mozambique and brought a prisoner. They expect a peaceful night, given the custom of truce on Christmas night and day. But the captain's wife unexpectedly arrives to spend Christmas, and the discomfort between the two is notorious. During the night, the prisoner and one of the soldiers are found dead and the barracks are being bombed. Until this film’s premiere, Manoel de Oliveira's “Non ou a Vã Glória de Mandar” had been the only film to fictionalize combat in Africa. “20.13 Purgatory” goes even further by including a night attack and a forbidden passion – the 20.13 refers to a verse in the Bible that is at the origin of one of the story’s mysteries. The interpretations of the idealist soldier by Marco D'Almeida and the tormented captain by Adriano Carvalho stand out.


7-14 September 2020

Change Nothing (2009) by Pedro Costa


“Change Nothing” originated in the friendship between actor Jeanne Balibar, sound director Philippe Morel, and Pedro Costa. Jeanne Balibar, singer, from rehearsals to recordings, from rock concerts to lyrical singing, from an attic in Saint Marie-aux-Mines to the stages of Tokyo, from “Johnny Guitar” to Offenbach’s “La Périchole”. Contrary to the usual format, this film is closer to Costa’s fiction than to the conventional musical documentary, where Balibar becomes somewhat of a character in the director’s universe, such as Ventura or Vanda Duarte. We see her drift from rehearsal to rehearsal, seemingly condemned to wander in an artistic labyrinth and through increasingly expressionist plans. French critic Philippe Azoury went further, stating that this film «turns Balibar into music’s Nosferatu».

Horse Money (2014) by Pedro Costa


While the young Captains march through Lisbon during the April Revolution, the people of the Fontainhas neighbourhood in Amadora continue looking for Ventura, who got lost in the forest. Today, demolished in the name of progress, the neighbourhood no longer exists. Lost in a country haunted by colonial war, revolution, and decolonisation, Ventura revisits his personal ghosts that are moulded into the ghosts of Portugal. The main character of “Juventude em Marcha” returns in Costa’s most phantasmagorical film. Ventura wanders through the limbo of his memories and traumas, confronted by spectral and enigmatic visions. A film that adds Vitalina Varela as a character of Costa’s films, and in which the shadows of Tourneur, 25 years after “O Sangue”, continue to manifest themselves.
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