Using the real letters published by a solider António Lobos Antunes during the Colonia War, Ivo M. Ferreira’s new drama is an epic character drama and wartime saga that takes the viewer onto the battlefield as soldiers risk their lives as they go into towns and villages, where innocent local people show the possibilty of hope. The movie will be playing in the Competition section at the Berlin International Film Festival, which kicks off tonight and runs February 21.
The official Berlinale synopsis reads: “‘This war turns us all into insects struggling for survival’ writes young military doctor António to his pregnant wife in Portugal in 1971. He has been posted to Angola to serve in the Portuguese Colonial War. His words are full of pain but also tenderness, filled with a deep longing for his beloved wife and their unborn child. At the same time, António’s regular letters provide a picture of his daily life in these foreign parts, including his discovery of the fascinating nature, his encounters with the local people and how he takes care of a young orphaned girl. But, increasingly, war rears its ugly head, and his letters home also become spiritual missives from a doomed world.”
The trailer suggests the film use each letter to depict a different chapter in António’s experiences at war, all captured in breathtaking black-and-white cinematography. Full of tension and haunting beauty, it looks like “Letters From War” is a Berlin entry not to miss this year. Watch the trailer above.