Lisboetas (Sérgio Tréfaut, 2004)
Lisboners (people of Lisbon) celebrates the ancient notion of citizenship, the right to the city in the making, in each migrant’s daily life, living and working. It is set in Lisbon but it happens in London, New York, Paris, Rome… anywhere. The Lisboners are people from Brazil, Guiné-Bissau, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, Ukraine, Moldavia, Russia, and Estonia.
Sérgio Tréfaut, a migrant himself, challenges prejudice and stereotypes and creates ‘’new forms of awareness and new patterns of thought to understand the presence of immigrant communities in Europe.’’ (Passos, 2008). He gives voice to the multiple ways the diverse migrants’ communities and individuals live and negotiate their way in the city and in Portuguese society, in pursuit of a migratory project, sometimes undefined, certainly adaptable and often endless.
The two clips we have chosen – a Ukrainian iconostasis painter and a Russian mother and children – represent different aspects of negotiation regarding work, education, leisure, or religion. Negotiation is also adaptation, drawing on multiple resources embedded in the kinship, as well as thinking of practical or imaginary exit strategies. It brings creativity, hope, sympathy and awareness. ’’For the public, each of the immigrants who feature in the film represents a figure for human solidarity in a way that eludes the simple reference to statistics. Immigrants are people, not just percentages or “problems,” as they are so often represented in the media.’’ (Passos, 2008).
This documentary had a huge impact beyond the Portuguese society, awarded the first prize for best Portuguese film in the Indie Lisboa – International Independent Film Festival (2004), it received wide attention from Atalanta Filmes production (2006) and received scholarly attention too – see Joana Passos’ review in the Journal of AfroEuropean studies).
Background on the film-maker:
Sérgio Tréfaut was born from a Portuguese father and a French mother, in Brazil (São Paulo, 1965), and he has lived in several countries. He graduated in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris, and he went on to study video reporting at the American Film Institute. Currently, he is the director of Doc Lisboa, a film festival for documentaries. Lisboetas is his 4th documentary. (Source: Passos, 2008).
Passos, J., 2010. Lisbon, ‘Lisboetas and Portugal: immigrants’ stories and hosts’ prejudice’. Afroeuropa: Journal of Afroeuropean Studies [Online] 2 (3).
Sign up for the UCL Urban Migration Film Festival here