Letters From Fontainhas: Three Films By Pedro Costa - The Criterion Collection

Criterion   (1997) / Region 1
Letters From Fontainhas: Three Films By Pedro Costa - The Criterion Collection

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Letters From Fontainhas: Three Films By Pedro Costa - The Criterion Collection

One of the most important artists on the international film scene today, Portuguese director Pedro Costa has been steadily building an impressive body of work since the late eighties. And these are the three films that put him on the map: spare, painterly portraits of battered, largely immigrant lives in the slums of Fontainhas, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Lisbon. , controlled works, Ossos, In Vanda's Room, and Colossal Youth

confirm Costa as a provocative new cinematic poet, one who locates beauty in the most unlikely of places.


The first film in Pedro Costa's transformative trilogy about

Fontainhas, an impoverished quarter of Lisbon, Ossos is a tale of young lives torn apart by desperation. After a suicidal teenage girl gives birth, she misguidedly entrusts her baby's safety to the

troubled, deadbeat father, whose violent actions take the viewer

on a tour of the foreboding, crumbling shantytown in which they

live. With its reserved, shadowy cinematography by Emmanuel

Machuel (who collaborated with Bresson on L'argent), Ossos is a haunting look at a devastated community.

In Vanda's Room

For the extraordinarily beautiful second film in his Fontainhas trilogy, Pedro Costa jettisoned his earlier films' larger crews to burrow even deeper into the Lisbon ghetto and the lives of its desperate inhabitants. With the intimate feel of a documentary and the texture of a Vermeer painting, In Vanda's Room takes an unflinching, fragmentary look at a handful of self-destructive, marginalized people, but is centered around the heroin-addicted Vanda Duarte. Costa presents the daily routines of Vanda and her neighbors with disarming matter-of-factness, and through his camera, individuals whom many would deem disposable become vivid and vital. This was Costa's first use of digital video, and the evocative images he created remain some of the medium's most astonishing.

Colossal Youth

Many of the lost souls of Ossos and In Vanda's Room return in the spectral landscape of Colossal Youth, which brings to Pedro Costa's Fontain has films a new theatrical, tragic grandeur. This time, Costa focuses on Ventura, an elderly immigrant from Cape Verde living in a low-cost housing complex in Lisbon, who has been abandoned by his wife and spends his days visiting his neighbors, whom he considers his "children." What results is a form of ghost story, a tale of derelict, dispossessed people living in the past and present at the same time, filmed by Costa with empathy and startling radiance.


  • Length
  • Rating NR
  • Released:
  • Added Dec 17 2009
  • Production Year 1997
  • Empire SKU 1512699
  • UPC Code 715515053013
  • Studio  Criterion
  • Packaging Custom
  • Number of Discs 4
  • Disc SS-DL
  • Subtitles English


New video conversations between Costa and filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin
New audio commentary for In Vanda’s Room featuring Costa and Gorin
New selected-scene audio commentary for Colossal Youth
Video interviews with critic João Bénard da Costa and cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel
New video essay by artist Jeff Wall
All Blossoms Again, a feature-length documentary on Costa
Tarrafal and The Rabbit Hunters, two short films by Costa
Little Boy Male, Little Girl Female, a video installation piece by Costa
Galleries of photos by Mariana Viegas and Richard Dumas
Theatrical trailers for In Vanda’s Room and Colossal Youth
Pllus: A booklet featuring essays by critics Cyril Neyrat, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Luc Sante, Thom Andersen, and Mark Peranson, as well as a reprint by Bernard Eisenschitz


  • Audio
    Portuguese Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Video
    Standard 1.33:1 Color
    Widescreen 1.66:1 Color

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