A Panorama of Genre Events in Portugal

Portugal does not have a prolific history in terms of genre events, however it is not devoid of History or of current activity in this field.

The most well-known event outside the country is probably Fantasporto. This film festival, in constant activity in Porto since 1981, is not restricted to genre movies, but has nonetheless always admitted to profess profoundly that passion. Led by Beatriz Pacheco Pereira (herself a genre literary writer) and Mário Dorminsky, the festival boasts to have highlighted many of today’s famous genre movie directors in their first efforts, from David Cronenberg to Guillermo del Toro.

Genre conventions came sometime after to the country, together with the wave of Portuguese Science Fiction writers in the 1990’s. The first such event following the model of international cons was Encounters of Science Fiction and Fantastic, organised by Simetria, a mainly literary association. Simetria ran the con from 1996 to 2000, always in Cascais, at which time Portugal was again without a formal national convention.

Five years after, in 2005, Fórum Fantástico was born in Lisbon, led by a small group of genre fans and writers. Since the beginning a free entrance event, it continues still today as a very eclectic genre event, bringing together national and international guests: creators, academics and publishers.

New generations of fans have enriched the landscape of genre events. Sci-Fi Lx, covering from gaming to cosplay, was organised in Lisbon from 2016 to 2018, and Festival Contacto, which started in 2018, has an assumed emphasis on providing activities for all the family.

More thematic events also happen, as steampunk is the best example. Portugal was one of the founding participants at the launch of EuroSteamCon, in 2012, due to the initiative of the ClockWork Portugal collective. With a sporadic frequency, and diverse groups of organisers, steampunk events keep popping up, with the Festival Vapor, at the National Train Museum, in Entroncamento, being the most impressive recently.

Genre themes are also regularly covered in comics conventions, especially those more traditional, like Amadora BD and Festival Internacional de Banda Desenhada de Beja, just to mention themost long standing. Since 2014, Portugal caught up to the ComicCon fever, but here genre themes outside the major franchises tend to pass unnoticed.

Another venue of increasing penetration of genre themes, mainstream conferences that focus on current trends of Futurism have especially been a good source of international writers, in a more reflective atmosphere.

Finally, small fan-based initiatives keep a number of interesting occasions, with capricious lifespans and unpredictable occurrence. From exhibitions, like Mostra Bibliográfica, to book clubs and discussion groups, like Tertúlia Noite Fantástica, Clube de Leitura Bertrand do Fantástico, and Tertúlia dos Devoradores de Livros. In this, independent bookstores play a critical role, like Bookshop Bivar, Tigre de Papel, and Leituria.

In the coming months, the Portal will cover more in depth these, and other, genre events, big and small, happening in Portugal.

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