A World of Rituals and Stories

in 22nd Ljubljana International Film Festival

by Tina Bernik

Found Memories (Historias que so existem quando lembradas), a film by Júlia Murat, introduces us to the small village of Jotuomba where the story of the movie centers around a dozen people; old villagers who are warm but cynical, reserved but altruistic, quiet but strong and old but vital. And alive or dead or something in between – the interpretation is left for the viewers to decide. First there is Madalena (Sonia Guedes), an 80+ year old woman who gets up in the middle of the night to bake some bread for the village and who presents all the other characters, especially her friend Antonio (Luiz Serra), who knows her even though he knows practically nothing about her. He makes coffee every day like Madalena makes bread and they share both each morning after they prepare the store for other people and before they go to mass. An early morning ritual of one becomes a morning ritual of two, which is followed by a religious ritual of many. Everyday rituals and quiet lives, where nothing ever changes, are interrupted by a young woman, photographer Rita (Lisa Fávero), who arrives in the village, asking Madalena for a place to stay. A place to sleep becomes Rita’s artistic and emotional home where she can take pictures and capture a period of time, in which she would like to live but can’t, using modern and old technologies, which make the objects and subjects she captures in a frame immortal and eternal. With every picture Rita takes, she comes to know more about the people, who give her photographs a meaning and who let her into their lives. Even more, with every picture Rita takes, they are prepared to share more, first their meals and their homes, later their life and life (hi)stories, that have never been reveled even among themselves.              

This debut full-length movie from Júlia Murat, with the help of screenwriters Maria Clara Escobar and Felipe Sholl, subtly uncovers the layers of the story and its characters and is a genuine and charming, but still uncontrived, portrait of the way of communication we establish with ourselves and others, regardless of age, race or education. It is also a portrait of different types of communication, where words are abundant and where people express themselves through their hearts and souls and deep connections they’ve established in the decades of common and individual pain and joy. The movie is both a portrait of a time we once knew and want to know again and a portrait of time we can remember but can’t live in anymore. It is time, where technologies and hours have no meaning, and time, where each individual was important as it was worth a thousand souls. Found Memories takes us to a world where at first glance each day is similar to another, but – as the director shows us with different perspectives, from which the same routine is filmed over and over again – still different at the same time, because people never cease to change like they never stop growing. If we follow the title of the movie Found Memories, or stories that exist if they are remembered, we could say that there are a lot of people that are remembered and live because of someone’s memories – between life, which is too good to end, and death, where their loved ones are waiting for them.          

Edited by Steven Yates