- Portuguese cinema had its debut in June 1896 at the Royal Coliseum, Lisbon, only six months after the pioneering French cinema-makers, the brothers Lumiere, introduced the earliest motion pictures to Paris audiences. Cinema pioneers in Portugal included photographer Manuel Maria da Costa Veiga and an early enthusiast, Aurelio da Paz dos Reis. The first movie theater opened in Lisbon in 1904, and most popular were early silent shorts, including documentaries and scenes of King Carlos I swimming at Cascais beach. Beginning with the Invicta Film company in 1912 and its efforts to produce films, Portuguese cinema-makers sought technical assistance in Paris. In 1918, French film technicians from Pathé Studios of Paris came to Portugal to produce cinema. The Portuguese writer of children's books, Virginia de Castro e Almeida, hired French film and legal personnel in the 1920s under the banner of "Fortuna Film" and produced several silent films based on her compositions.In the 1930s, Portuguese cinema underwent an important advance with the work of Portuguese director-producers, including AntônioLopes Ribeiro, Manoel de Oliveira, Leitao de Barros, and Artur Duarte. They were strongly influenced by contemporary French, German, and Russian cinema, and they recruited their cinema actors from the Portuguese Theater, especially from the popular Theater of Review (teatro de revista) of Lisbon. They included comedy radio and review stars such as Vasco Santana, Antônio Silva, Maria Matos, and Ribeirinho. As the Estado Novo regime appreciated the important potential role of film as a mode of propaganda, greater government controls and regulation followed. The first Portuguese sound film, A Severa (1928), based on a Julio Dantas book, was directed by Leitão de Barros.The next period of Portuguese cinema, the 1930s, 1940s, and much of the 1950s, has been labeled, Comédia a portuguesa, or Portuguese Comedy, as it was dominated by comedic actors from Lisbon's Theatre of Review and by such classic comedies as 1933's A Cancáo de Lisboa and similar genre such as O Pai Tirano, O Pátio das Cantigas, and A Costa do Castelo. The Portuguese film industry was extremely small and financially constrained and, until after 1970, only several films were made each year. A new era followed, the so-called "New Cinema," or Novo Cinema (ca. 1963-74), when the dictatorship collapsed. Directors of this era, influenced by France's New Wave cinema movement, were led by Fernando Lopes, Paulo Rocha, and others.After the 1974-75 Revolution, filmmakers, encouraged by new political and social freedoms, explored new themes: realism, legend, politics, and ethnography and, in the 1980s, other themes, including docufiction. Even after political liberty arrived, leaders of the cinema industry confronted familiar challenges of filmmakers everywhere: finding funds for production and audiences to purchase tickets. As the new Portugal gained more prosperity, garnered more capital, and took advantage of membership in the burgeoning European Union, Portuguese cinema benefited. Some American producers, directors, and actors, such as John Malkovich, grew enamored of residence and work in Portugal. Malkovich starred in Manoel de Oliveira's film, O Convento (The Convent), shot in Portugal, and this film gained international acclaim, if not universal critical approval. While most films viewed in the country continued to be foreign imports, especially from France, the United States, and Great Britain, recent domestic film production is larger than ever before in Portugal's cinema history: in 2005, 13 Portuguese feature films were released. One of them was coproduced with Spain, Midsummer Dream, an animated feature. That year's most acclaimed film was O Crime de Padre Amaro, based on the Eça de Queirós' novel, a film that earned a record box office return. In 2006, some 22 feature films were released. With more films made in Portugal than ever before, Portugal's cinema had entered a new era.See also Literature.
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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