Os Demónios do meu Avô (My Grandpa’s Demons) – Dreaming Through Reality

My Grandpa’s Demons is Nuno Beato’s first feature-length film. A stop-motion animated film set in a «fictional» village: Vale de Sarronco. However, that village also has a bit of documental. For even a fictional film, and an animated one at that, can capture reality just as clearly as a documentary.

Humanity has always created fantasies built from it’s oun reality. After all, fairy tales were often used as ways to ascertain societal beliefs. However, they were often quite simplistic. As time progressed and these fantasies were able to grow into more complex narratives, they became less simplistic or moralistic. They have truly become as complex as reality itself, serving as a mirror to our oun world. By now, the Seventh Art has reached a point where that reality can be warped beyond our wildest dreams. But deep down, those dreams still try to capture themes that are faced in our real world. 

Animation is the film method that’s farthest from reality. The way it can represent real images might range from being identifiable, to being completely abstract. However, this freedom also allows animation to get to something more distanced from the perception we simply get from our eyes. For the visuals of an animated film deal with exaggeration. An emotion can become more visually distinguishable. The same can be said about places. A house can be abstracted in order to almost become a character onto itself.

Photo from Sardinha em Lata

Nuno Beato’s film is inspired by Rosa Ramalho’s statues, using them to design his oun characters. These might be a distorted representations of a portuguese reality, but they also capture something deeper in Portugal’s soul. Ramalho’s pottery style is incredibly recognizable. A part of portuguese iconography. Therefore, a part of Portugal’s soul.

For those who don’t know Rosa Ramalho’s works, she was a ceramist that never really pursued an artistic career. She simply created clay figures in order to make a living. Having started to work as a 7 year old, she would only gain notoriety when she was 70. Through her works, she would portray scenes from people’s daily lives. This included catholic rituals and women carrying ox carts. However, what distinguished her from other artists was the way she mixed elements from her childhood nightmares: Monsters.

Photo from Sardinha em Lata

Beato’s film seems to be taking that imaginarium to show Portugal’s rural side. It’s fictional village is a place inhabited by people, animals and fantastical creatures. Even though Rosa Ramalho passed away more than 40 years ago, the art she dreamed of is still influencing other works of art.

It’s apropriate that even the main character of the film will homage the artist, by being named Rosa. The plot itself will start when she comes back to her birth village after learning her grandpa had passed away. My Grandpa’s Demons promises to deal with their relationship.

Animation is a hard type of film to create. By most positive estimations, the film will only be out by 2021. A feature-length animation needs a strong financing and plenty of time. So far, the project has amassed around 2 million dollars. But one has to wonder how else it would be possible to bring the imaginarium of the likes of Rosa Ramalho to the big screen.

The wildest the imagination, the more expensive and time consuming it will be to bring to the big screen. But there’s a part of society that simply can’t be shown in any other way. For every culture is in large part molded by it’s stories and fantasies. By it’s ability to dream.

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