Playful Perversions: Short Films by Gabriel Abrantes
Date: November 25, 2019
Address: 631 W 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA. 90012
Los Angeles premieres!
Director Gabriel Abrantes in person!
Since emerging in 2006, Gabriel Abrantes has carved a unique niche for himself at the vanguard of contemporary cinema. As de facto figurehead of a loose ensemble of collaborators with art school ties and a taste for the transgressive, the Lisbon-based artist (co-director of the acclaimed comedy Diamantino) brings a playfully perverse spirit to the tradition of experimental filmmaking. Shot on 16mm, Abrantes’ absurdist allegories tackle issues of colonialism, gender, sexuality, and desire through a bold conflation of history, aesthetics, and politics—like pop art by way of Pasolini. Dizzyingly prolific, he continues to add to a shapeshifting body of work whose pleasures and provocations are wholly indivisible.
In person: Gabriel Abrantes
Financial support provided by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Liberdade (Gabriel Abrantes and Benjamin Crotty, 2011, 17 min)
Shot in Luanda, Angola, this visually ravishing tale of romance, crime, and erectile dysfunction chronicles the relationship between an Angolan boy and a Chinese girl as they attempt to forge a shared, transcultural identity.
Fratelli (Gabriel Abrantes and Alexandre Melo, 2012, 17 min)
Gabriel Abrantes and Alexander Melo deconstruct the first section of Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ as a playful, vibrant ode to bacchanalia, classicism, and homoeroticism.
Taprobana (Gabriel Abrantes, 2014, 24 min)
A sensuous and debauched portrait of Portugal’s national poet Luís Vaz de Camões teetering on the borderline between Paradise and Hell.
The Artificial Humors (Gabriel Abrantes, 2016, 29 min)
Using a mix of Hollywood aesthetics with documentary strategies, the film follows a young indigenous girl from the Xingu National Park to São Paulo, where she falls in love with a robot that also happens to be a stand-up comedian. This strange story mixes the anthropology of humor, indigenous communities, and artificial intelligence.
The Extraordinary Misadventures of the Stone Lady (Gabriel Abrantes, 2019, 18 min)
Tired of being a banal architectural ornamental, a sculpture runs from the Louvre to confront real life on the streets of Paris.
While completely different on paper, these shorts feel surprisingly complementary. Like the filmmakers, there seems to be an organic chemistry binding the works together — a personal joke, too good not to share.
Kat Herriman, The New York Times Magazine
Since 2007, Abrantes has matched an affinity for abstruse, looping narrative with a bawdy sense of humor. Although his work frequently draws on sources like Manet or Aristophanes, it’s never hindered by the dictates of good taste.
Alice Stoehr, MUBI Notebook
A body of work that intoxicates, titillates, tickles, and scandalizes. The films of Abrantes and co. challenge outmoded distinctions between 'art cinema' and artists’ films, between work
that travels the festival circuit and work that belongs in a gallery.
Dan Sullivan, Film Comment
With a penchant for genre subterfuge and a style that distinctly shuttles between a jerky (and somewhat quirky) amateurism and a stately Super 16mm grandeur, [Gabriel Abrantes] evokes, twists, and turns Hollywood’s conventions into beguiling and breathtaking devices.
Andréa Picard, Cinema Scope
From the beginning, Abrantes has interrogated the concept of privilege, cross-examined the privileged perspective and made it [his] prevailing subject. His bewitching movies deal in the imbalance hardwired into desire across lines of class and culture and, as Gang of Four put it, 'The problem of leisure / What to do for pleasure.'
Nick Pinkteron, Sight & Sound