Totally different worlds, yet inclusive
Portuguese Joel Brandão, 23, is doing a short film about the communities of Macau. Speaking about his documentary, he finds that the Portuguese and the Chinese live in different worlds, with completely different cultures, even if they share the same spaces. Yet, there’s inclusion. He wishes to show his work in Macau later this year
PEDRO DANIEL OLIVEIRA
You are in Macau to complete the last stage of your master’s degree in Cinema and Audiovisual at the Catholic University of Porto. How did this opportunity arise?
I’ve been here already in September [of last year], in an internship of another project called “Influxes” of Babel, a non-profit organization coordinated by Dr. Margarida Saraiva. I then shot in Macau and Hong Kong. This time, I presented to the Catholic University of Porto a proposal to do the internship in Macau, which was accepted. Although I pay for the bills, I think that taking the internship in Macau is a personal and professional investment that turns out to be an advantage to me.
What kind of proposal have you presented at the Catholic University of Porto?
It’s a documentary, a short film about Macau and its communities. It runs between twelve and fifteen minutes. It’s lacking a title yet. I’m thinking of Inside. But it’s not yet decided. The documentary will have subtitles in English.
Which communities are portrayed in your work?
They are the communities of the Portuguese from Portugal, the Chinese from Macau and the Filipinos. My purpose is to portray these communities, but not what the participants do on a day-to-day basis, like when they get up and go to work. My aim is to interview each of these people in order to find out what a Portuguese thinks of the Chinese and also about Macau, the local culture and what Macau will be in future. At the same time, I want to know what a Filipino thinks of the Portuguese, the Chinese and the local culture. Just like what a Chinese thinks of the Portuguese, and so on…
What have you learned so far?
These communities live in the same city, interact with each other, but there is a big gap among them in terms of ethnicity and culture. Although they live together and share the same spaces, it gives me the impression that they live in different worlds, with completely different cultures. As a Portuguese, I am glad to have arrived in Macau and see that there is still some conservation of spaces and places… And that there is some Portuguese culture, as it was the last celebrations of the 10th of June [Portugal/Camões Day]. After spending a month and a half in Macau, it was joyful to watch the celebrations, the Portuguese traditional folk group and realize that there is this strong connection of the Macanese to Portuguese culture, through their ancestors and relatives.
Why did you choose Macau?
I was delighted to see many Portuguese when I first came. At that time I made a documentary under the subject “contrasts.” I noticed that the Portuguese culture here is very visible, while the same is never the case with the Chinese or Macanese culture in Portugal. And since this time I had to do the internship somewhere, then I thought: why not Macau? I like to venture, to travel and to know other countries. That’s why I wanted to come back, by making use of the contacts I did last year.
Can you tell us about the participants in the documentary?
Dr Elias Farinha Soares works at the Monetary Authority of Macau. I spent an afternoon with him in a place where he felt at ease. He chose Coloane Island to be interviewed. The remaining shots were taken with him to stroll in the village of Coloane with his partner. I wanted to shoot the connection and the interaction between him and the people.
And what did he tell you?
It’s normal for the Chinese to regard the Portuguese as being of the upper-middle class, because many of them work here, earn high salaries and are recognized. He also feels that the Chinese live their culture intrinsically. There is no will to share, since they are very closed in their families and do not make themselves known easily.
How about the others?
I interviewed the [Evangelical] Chaplain Andy Alcoba from the Philippines. He is President of the International Aid & Caring Assistance Foundation and Director of the International Auxiliary Chaplaincy Association – Macau. He told me that the Chinese are very closed in their world. On the other hand, he feels that Portuguese culture is much more open.
What about the interviewee from the Chinese community?
His name is William Chan. He owns a small food business between Camões Garden and Kiang Wu Hospital. I went there every day to have breakfast when I was here for the first time. And now he is glad to see me back.
What do you think about him?
It’s different. He’s a more reserved person. He sees the Portuguese like those tourists, from the upper-middle class. I asked if he studied with any Portuguese on his youth, or if he made friends with any, and the answer I got was a no. The only person he dealt with was a “head of the Church.” He went to church, and the priest was his teacher. He also spoke about the Portuguese in a curious way… He is very proud to speak of this priest. However, he is a very reserved person. Friendship with a Westerner is always done with detachment. But what captivated me the most is that, although there is such a distance, he opened the doors of his business alongside his wife, and then I was able to shoot and interview him. This left me wondering: How do the Chinese want detachment, in this case from the Portuguese, but yet, they seem to like closeness and feel somehow they are important?
What are your plans for the future?
I’m going back to Portugal in early July to deliver the internship report. I intend to finish the documentary between November and December this year. Then, I will to try to return, aiming to do the premiere in Macau. After that, let’s see what happens…
Margem previewed in Portugal (box)
Directed by Joel Brandão, the short movie Margem (Margin) had its preview last Wednesday at the School of Arts of the Catholic University of Porto. It is Brandão’s first work as a director. The plot runs around a widow who wishes to have the family united again, with the approach of her two sons. Portuguese actors Pedro Barroso, Lucinda Loureiro, Márcia Breia and David Mourato are part of the cast. Joel Brandão is from Porto and lives in Santo Tirso, Portugal. He plans to show Margem in Macau.