On the occasion of the launch of the Webdoc resulting from one of our most distinctive  workshops, El Retrato Filmado, or our Filmed Portrait workshop, we have chosen three films which explore some of the more significant aspects involved in the construction of a portrait: the position of the filmmaker with respect to their subject and their filmic creation, power relations and the fascination that arises between the director and subject, the mirror-like correspondences, representation of the other and through the other, the gaze, the visibility of the medium, the creative process, the passing of time, memory, and ethics, among others. We believe that the three examples on offer are paradigmatic examples of the complexity of the relations between portraitist and subject, both in life as in film.


Ed van der Elsken, 37', 1972, Netherlands
A film by Ed van der Elsken
With Vali Meyers

Death in the Port Jackson Hotel is a film portrait of the Australian artist Vali Myers. Van der Elsken got acquainted with her in post-war Paris. His pictures of her resulted in the pictorial history A love affair in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Love on the Left Bank). Eighteen years later Vali pays a visit to the photographer on his farm in Edam. Van der Elsken films her while she brings back memories looking at photographs that are shown to her. She talks about OD victims, suicides and her opium addiction. He also films her in his kitchen while she is making the drawing ‘Death in the Port Jackson Hotel’. And finally he films her in a valley near Naples, where she leads a secluded life with her 19-year-old boyfriend.


Helena Třeštíková, 83', 2008, Czech Republic
Directed by Helena Třeštíková
Production: Česká televize, Negativ, S.R.O.
Cinematography: Martin Kubala, Petr Pešek, Stano Slušný, Václav Smolík, Marek Dvorák, Ondrej Belica, Miroslav Soucek, Vlastimil Hamerník
Editing: Jakub Hejna
Sound: Vladimír Nahodil, Pavel Sádek, Jan Valouch, Václav Hejduk, Miroslav Šimcík, Štepán Mamula, Daniel Nemec, Zbynek Mikulík, Petr Provazník, Jan Valouch.
Music: Tadeáš Věrčák

“Why has my shitty life turned out like this? No-one knows. Not even God. God’s on holiday and he’s reading porn” – an excerpt from Diary of the Forgotten, the journal kept by the main protagonist in another of Helena Třeštíková’s long-term documentaries. With raw authenticity, the director records the luckless fate of René over a period of twenty years as he yo-yos between prison and freedom. The film questions the relationship between filmmaker and protagonist. A story of overwhelming power that goes straight to where it hurts.


João Moreira Salles, 80', 2007, Brazil
Directed by João Moreira Salles
Producer: Maurício Andrade Ramos
Cinematography: Walter Carvalho
Editing: Eduardo Escorel, Lívia Serpa
Sound: Jorge Saldanha

“Thirteen years ago, when I shot these images, I thought the film would begin like this…” This is the first line of narration in João Moreira Salles’ Santiago. A film not simply about Santiago, the filmmaker’s family’s butler, but about failure, about memory and about documentary filmmaking. In 1992, the filmmaker shot nine hours of footage, but aborted the project on the cutting room table. It is by looking at the outtakes of the original footage 13 years later that Salles deconstructs the myths of documentary filmmaking and makes a film that is as much about him as it is about Santiago.