Every family has its secrets. My family is no exception. A slow pan reveals a room full of objects and paintings. At the end of the pan we see an old man fiddling with something on a desk. The camera comes closer and the old man addresses the camera and shows the audience his unexpected collection of pipe-bags. At some point he says these bags could become great toys for his future granddaughters who could make them into dolls dresses. He mentions an imaginary granddaughter named Catarina playing with these bags.
This is a scene from an archive I found recently in Portuguese Television. It is part of a program shot in 1967 called The collector’s club. The old man is my grandfather. I was born only three years later. I never met my grandfather who died in 1970 and my mother says she never saw this footage. My grandfather wanted to be a writer and my grandmother and her family forced him to become a notary and accept a job far from the family. This was 1926, the very beginning of Salazar’s dictatorship in Portugal. Despite the distance and the few moments at home they had three children, my uncle born in 1930, my aunt born in 1933, and 12 years later, when they were trying to reconcile, my mother was born. When my mother was two years old my grandparents became separated and she only saw her father three times a year. In 1954, my uncle who was studying to become a painter joined the Communist Party, against his father’s political beliefs, known for defending the monarchy.
From then on the family lost track of him because he was living underground. In this film I want to unravel the secrets and mysteries of my Portuguese family during dictatorship. The cloud of Salazar’s regime is finally dissipating, 38 years after the carnation revolution of 1974, families can now make sense of their past, reinterpret old memories and discover new truths. The film will be my journey through my findings between past and present trying to make sense of what has once been kept away from me.
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