Watching the film with its fantastic Portuguese music in the background, I got to see the daily struggle of the people as they stormed the streets, reclaiming and occupying public spaces as citizens and united workers. They occupied schools, factories, and public spaces, working together as a team. With the term ‘occupy’ so prevalent this year, I wonder how many people camping in the cold and hostile streets all over the globe realise that the working heroes from Portugal had succeeded in bringing democracy to the country through this ethos?
The Marxist politics in this film are loud and undeniable. The narrative places the workers as an homogeneous mass against the bourgeois, who are never really represented in the film. There is no subjectivity within the film either – in the final notes at the end of the picture, a card has blood dripping into its message, a very unsubtle metaphor.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film was its physical quality. The curators for this programme, Kodwo Eshun and Ros Gray, had chosen films that were unseen and hard to find. The picture is full of spots and the aesthetics are rough and overexposed – at one point, there is an interview with a soldier, whose face has been obscured to a white mask from the quality of the film. With its style and narration, militant cinema is a genre all its own and the programme at Iniva has hopefully presented its audience with new knowledge and perspectives.
*The programme has come from the publication of a special Third Text journal ‘Militant Cinema: A Cine-Geography’.Find out more about The Militant Image programme
Tara Brown is an Inivator, a member of Iniva’s Youth Advisory Board and is also currently an Education Apprentice at Whitechapel Gallery.