PRINT September 2016


Still from Pere Portabella’s Vampir-Cuadecuc, 1970, 16 mm, black-and-white, sound, 75 minutes. Christopher Lee. Maria Rohm. Christopher Lee.

PERE PORTABELLA made his first film in Barcelona in 1967, a time marked by intense repression in Francoist Spain and a worldwide proliferation of cinematic new waves that were challenging the parameters of filmic language. The eight features and countless shorts he brought to fruition in the subsequent half century would seem to thwart the typical auteurist search for unity in which the critic catalogues repeated motifs and notes trademark gestures recurring across a body of work. One can’t simply periodize his films, either. It is tempting to divide up the various productions and say that there are two Portabellas: At times, the Catalan director seems an heir to the Surrealism of Luis Buñuel, at work in an art-cinema idiom of dark, irreverent humor and social critique; at others, his name could be fairly uttered in the same breath as that of Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino,

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