O Sangue

O Sangue

Pedro Costa

Portugal, 1989

Pedro Costa (Lisbon, 1959) was just 29 years old when he shot his first feature film, O Sangue (1989). Made after leaving Lisbon's Cinema School, it is a work marked by a strong learning component, carried out by a small team that brought together, among others, some of his colleagues. All the filming was done in a few areas of Barreiro, Vale de Santarém, Seixal, Valada do Ribatejo in Cartaxo and in central Lisbon. Pedro Costa tells of how this first experience was complicated, especially because of the rain that affected shooting outside, even more given the choice of filming in black and white film, with strong contrasts, always at the limit of visibility. In relation to the work with light and with black as a central colour of O Sangue, Pedro Costa remembers that the scene of Clara and Vicente going to the park – since it was filmed outside, although lit as if it were studio interiors, – required extensive work. Sometimes the presence of 6/7 members of the team of electricians was necessary on the set for the scene to be well lit.

During the shooting, Pedro Costa protected his actors, knowing them to be a fundamental part of the film he wanted to make, namely Nuno Ferreira, the boy who came to play the role of Nino and who Costa found in an orphanage. In a way, this experience foreshadows the work with non-actors, something that would be recurrent after Ossos (1995). Still striking was the way in which the film's theme – the formation of a new family in the face of the bankruptcy of traditional parental values ​​– ends up being confirmed in the very way that Pedro Costa manages his first filming experience, something he would maintain for the rest of his work thereafter: Pedro Costa makes films recurrently with the same people, a kind of “substitute family” of an artistic nature. It perhaps can even be said that the desire to work with little resources and without large teams in the shooting – illustrated above all by the trilogy of Fontaínhas: Ossos (1995); No Quarto de Vanda (2000); Juventude em Marcha (2006) – is due to this need to look for something true and genuine in cinema. The places he films are the spaces inhabited on a daily basis by his actors, meanwhile integrated into this ensemble of a family that uses cinema as a form of expression.


On the outskirts of the city, Vicente and Nino, brothers aged 17 and 10, live with their father. However, he is ill and goes out frequently for his treatments. Once, after unexpected events that took place in the depths of the night, Vicente tells his brother that his father is not coming back. The boys then have to learn to live on their own, with only the help of Vicente's girlfriend Clara. Everything seems to be going well until the arrival of an uncle from Lisbon, who wants to take the child to live with him, and the pressure of the father's two creditors who want to get their money back at all costs.

99 min / 35mm / Format: 1.33

Inside Cinema Credits

Documentation: Os Filhos de Lumière, Cinemateca Portuguesa

Texts: Carlos Natálio

Archives: Optec, Pedro Costa, Portuguese Cinematheque

O Sangue: Creation process