In a personal odyssey bucking the anti-arthouse trend in Portuguese cinema, acclaimed helmer João Botelho has decided to self-distribute his
latest film, “Film of Disquiet,” based on “Book of Disquiet” by Portugal’s best-known poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).
“There are virtually no arthouse cinemas left in Portugal,” Botelho explains, “So I decided to buy a $63,000 Full-HD video projector, a
Playstation 3 and made a Blu-ray master and hit the road.”
The vast majority of Portuguese cinemas are multiplexes in shopping malls, with one of Europe’s highest-levels of market concentration,
making it difficult for arthouse films to find an audience — Botelho’s last film, “The Northern Land” only clocked up 5,000 admissions —
with a meager revenue split for producers (around $1.40 per spectator).
“Disquiet” has already nabbed 6,065 admissions in 15 sold-out sessions held since Sept. 29.
Botelho plans to visit over 60 venues over the next six months, with screenings organized for the general public and school and university groups.
“With school groups perhaps only 1/3 of the audience really enjoys and understands the film, but that’s already significant and prompts
great discussion after the screening itself,” explains Botelho.
Portuguese producers such as Paulo Branco are reportedly planning to emulate Botelho’s self-distribution model and the minister of
culture, Gabriela Canavilhas, has announced plans to build a digital cinema network that will favor arthouse films.