★★★★ Directed by: Daniel Azevedo
Starring: Susie Filipe, Nelson Leão, Pedro da Silva, Maria de Almeida, João Cerveira, and Laura Madanelo
Short Film Review by: Bruna Foletto Lucas
Moonlight Symposium is a Portuguese short film directed by Daniel Azevedo. The plot of the film is explained right from the beginning in a title card – the Portuguese royal family desires to fulfil a prophecy that claims that the son of the two beings of the same blood shall be enlightened. Therefore, the family aspires to find the purest blood in a sequel of incestuous relationships.
Aurora and her twin brother are victims of this ideology and are brought up to procreate and love their children. Whilst the brother is fully for the relationship, Aurora rebels against it, and her happiness brings her mother to commit suicide and her father, unable to cope with the suicide of his wife, follows the same footsteps.
As Aurora’s brother goes to war, she marries an abusive man, only to be found, ten years later, by her brother, who expects her to leave everything to be with him, as he still believes his destiny lies with Aurora.Despite the gruesome origin of this story, Azevedo manages to tell it in a beautiful and poetical way, relying on the juxtaposition of shots and on the metaphorical reading of them.
The sequences resemble dream sequences and the dialogue is, a lot of the times, replaced by idyllic shots. Aurora runs through a dark forest, her mother roams around with an umbrella, and her brother eats a rotten apple, toying with the Eve’s guilt on the catholic story. Black and white dominate the screen and in the sex scenes the characters avoid eye contact in a mechanic act where the pleasure is clearly absent.
The actors were successful in conveying their hate towards each other, at times Aurora’s exhaustion blended with resignation, and her agony was well portrayed by Susie Filipe. Desperation and the need to fight against one’s destiny are painted in each shot, and these feeling are heightened by the dialogues that are spoken in riddles. However, despite the visual beauty of this film, it only works as a single piece because of the explanation in the beginning. Without the title card the film would have felt incomplete with shots that would be, at times, disconnected.
Five extra minutes would be welcome on this film; nonetheless, Azevedo has done a beautiful job in this enjoyable film!