CAM Peter Bo Rappmud
PROD CO Curtas Metragens CRL
Commissioned for the 20th anniversary of the Portuguese short film festival Curtas Vila do Conde, Thom Andersen’s Reconversão portrays 17 buildings and unrealized projects by 2011 Pritzker Prize-winning Portuguese starchitect Eduardo Souto Moura, accompanied usually by his own writings, as narrated by Encke King, the inimitable voiceover artist from Andersen’s masterpiece Los Angeles Plays Itself. Reconversão is a particular search for the essence of Souto Moura’s architecture, without critical commentary, but with a great deal of political engagement and a fair amount of Andersen’s dry humour. Interviewed on screen, Souto Moura has the last word: "If there is nothing there, I invent a pre-existence."
Technically, Reconversão combines the crudeness of proto-cinema with the hyperrealism of digital cinema, bringing us back to the ideals of Dziga Vertov. Andersen here is collaborating with his former student, cinematographer Peter Bo Rappmund (Tectonics, also showing at VIFF), who shoots only one or two frames per second and animates them in the studio afterwards, in the manner of Eadweard Muybridge. This produces images of higher resolution, although not necessarily a greater sense of reality, and brings attention to the movements of water and vegetation that generally pass unnoticed. Souto Moura’s architecture is one of reconverted ruins, and Andersen’s remarkable film is an investigation into time and space, projecting viewers into Souto Moura’s remarkable buildings’ pasts, presents and futures.