Private Project


Chico is a messy-looking young man, unable to approach his neighbor Clara. As days go by, Chico improves his appearance and his confidence grows progressively, motivating him to take the first step with Clara.

After a romantic evening between them, Chico approaches Clara, who is confused and denies that they were involved. Chico is then forced to confront his reality, with a series of terrifying visions that lead him to Clara's apartment.

As he walks through this threshold, he finds the darkest corner of his mind, something so perverse that it proves his madness...

  • Pedro M. Afonso
    The Swap, Interference, To Examine One's Self
  • J. L. Peixoto
  • J. L. Peixoto
  • Daniel Marques
    Director of Photography
    The Swap
  • Henrique Queirós
    Assistant Camera
  • Sebastião Guimarães
    Assistant Director
  • Nuno Felisberto
    Sound Director
  • Duarte Costa
    Sound Design
  • Catarina Martins
    Line Producer
  • João Delgado Lourenço
    Key Cast
    The Swap, Nothingness Club, Turn Key Club, Histórias da Montanha, Ao Largo, O Atentado, Sem Filmes
  • Maria da Fonte
    Key Cast
    "Clara 1"
  • Cláudia Gomes
    Key Cast
    "Clara 2"
  • Nara Moreira
    Art Director
    The Swap
  • Maria Trindade
    Art Director
  • Josefina Amorim
  • Tatiana Silva
    MUA & Hair
  • Afonso Marques
    Graphic Design
  • Pedro M. Afonso
    Executive Producer
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Horror, Thriller
  • Runtime:
    18 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 13, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2.35 & 16:9
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Pedro M. Afonso

Pedro M. Afonso, born in 1994, is a young Portuguese director from Porto.

He directed his first short film in 2020 "The Swap", having received nominations and selections from several national and international festivals, such as the Portuguese Film Academy - Sophia Student Awards, Curtas de Vila do Conde, Caminhos de Cinema Português, YMOTION, CRASH, FICBC, among others.

His most recent work, "To Examine One’s Self" received support from the distributor Festival Formula and was selected for Academy and BAFTA qualifying festivals, POFF Black Nights and the Norwich Film festival.

Despite his short career, he already has experience in the industry as Assistant Director in the feature film "A Vida Fantástica de Sofia", by José Alberto Pinheiro and in the series "Atrás dos Tempos" by LX Filmes; Editor for the film "Colégio do Templo: Paramnésia" by BeActive Entertainment, as well as copywriter for HOP!Filmes. He has also participated in several commissioned projects with production companies such as FilmesDaMente, The Amazing Rabbit, ETHNO and Estúdio Imigrante.

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Director Statement

In the midst of the second decade of the 21st century, Humanity still doesnt’t have an answer or solution to stop violence against women, a problem inherently linked to gender roles and interpersonal relationships. Portugal, a member of a civilly mature Europe with enormous progress in the area of human rights, struggles for solutions to deal with femicide, in spite of the growing awareness of social institutions and the increased number of reports from victims. This is a social practice that has become, insidiously throughout history, ordinary and expected. Maelstrom is an artistic exploration of this issue, of gender problems and expectations about social roles that weigh on the male psyche.
Following Chico, in his 30s, middle-class and sloppy looking, the film will show the desire that Clara, his neighbor, evokes in him, as well as the consequences of it. Adhering to the social conventions, normative and patriarchal expectations that imbue personal interaction, Chico goes through his days with only one goal in mind: to conquer Clara. To conquer her physically, mentally, metaphorically, to reduce her to a commodity that can be possessed, always armed with his own conceptions of relationship, intimacy, and even reality.
It will be in this spiral of expectations, desire, pacts, and violence (both psychological and physical) that Chico will get to the core of his issues: male sexual lack of control and the predatory impulse associated with it. This, however, will not be a film of clichés and easy commonplaces: if they exist, they will be subverted; if subverted, they will be metaphorical.