An old house falls slowly to the ground. To the same earth with which its walls were once made with. And without protesting, the house becomes soil again. Pretending it had not seen countless people ploughing, seeding, harvesting, kneading and eating, every nine years the cork harvesting; not heard the poetry and the stories; as if it had not witnessed droughts and people leaving in search for a better life. SORTES follows the life of the resisting inhabitants and their animals scattered around Serra de Serpa in the Alentejo region. And through the voices of the remaining popular poets becomes a portrait of those who are still there and a requiem for those who are not.

  • Mónica Martins Nunes
    The Ashes Remain Warm
  • Mónica Martins Nunes
    The Ashes Remain Warm
  • Pedro Fernandes Duarte
    By Flávio, The Metamorphosis of Birds, Ghosts: Long Way Home, RUBY
  • Maria da Saúde Parreira
    Key Cast
  • Eulálio Alves
    Key Cast
  • Francisco Bica
    Key Cast
  • Mónica Martins Nunes
    The Ashes Remain Warm
  • Mónica Martins Nunes
    Sound Recording
    The Ashes Remain Warm
  • Dídio Pestana
    Sound editing and design
    Sobre Tudo Sobre Nada, É na Terra não é na Lua
  • André Neto
    Sound Mixing
  • Caio Soares
    Club Splendida
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    38 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 15, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Visions du Reél
    April 18, 2021
    World premiere
    International Medium Length & Short Film Competition
  • Curtas de Vila do Conde
    Vila do Conde, Porto e Lisboa
    July 21, 2021
    Portuguese Premiere
    National Competition
  • FIKE - Évora International Short Film Festival
    September 23, 2021
    Official Selection - Winner of Public Award
  • Porto/Post/Doc
    November 21, 2021
    Cinema Falado Competition
  • O Dia Mais Curto
    throughout the whole country
    December 21, 2021
  • Festival Filmer le Travail
    February 9, 2022
    French Premiere
    International Competition
  • Hamburg Short Film Festival
    June 3, 2022
    German Premiere
    National Competition
  • CineEco Seia
    October 8, 2022
    Competição de Curtas Metragens em língua portuguesa
  • Deutscher Kurzfilmpreis (German Short Film Award)

    November 17, 2022
    Best Medium Length Film (Sonderpreis)
    October 12, 2023
    Turkish Premiere
  • Portuguese Cinema Days in Berlin
    November 20, 2023
  • 2023
    whole country
  • Le mois du Doc
    November 11, 2023
Director Biography - Mónica Martins Nunes

Mónica Martins Nunes - born in 1990, Lisbon / lives and works between Berlin and different Portuguese localities - she began her artistic practice as a sculptor working with ceramics, only later entering the realm of film.
Navigating through different cinematic registers freely, she entwines poetry and reality in deceivingly simple films that yearn to unearth a wider understanding of both.
In both her films and sculptures, she looks for materials, places, people and traditions in the shadow of a fast and seemingly all-encompassing society. While experimenting with the non-melodic musicality of moving image, her montage searches for a rhythm interweaving linearity with the cyclic nature of time.
Her first film THE ASHES REMAIN WARM (Na cinza fica calor) won the “Golden Dove” in the International Competition Short Documentary at DOK Leipzig 2017. And her film SORTES, filmed in her mother’s home region of "Serra de Serpa", won the German Short Film Award for best medium length film (Sonderpreis) in 2022. Both were crafted slowly and carefully, in a one-woman team.

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Director Statement

by Mónica Martins Nunes

In the beginning, I wanted to film my grandfather to document his masterful storytelling with which I grew up. But as I landed in Lisbon to film, I had to go directly to the hospital to see him. Oblivious to the context of a crowded emergency room, there he started singing to me, in a withering voice, a traditional song called “Meu lírio roxo do campo” (My Purple Lily of the Fields). That is where his mind was at and how he was.
I began making this film after his death, while visiting the ruins of what was once his and his family ́s house. In hindsight, SORTES was my personal way of mourning and continuing his art of storytelling in the way I could...

In "Serra de Serpa" there are many “montes”, traditional rammed earth houses returning to the same earth with which its walls were once built. As if accepting the dominant horizontality,
they let themselves get swallowed by the ground, leaving almost no trace behind. Like they had not seen countless people ploughing, seeding, harvesting, kneading and eating; not
heard the poetry and the storytelling; not witnessed droughts, desertification, soil erosion, the rise of industrial farming in the region, and people leaving in search for a better life.
The apparent lethargy of the passing days, seasons and years conceals a greater cycle, the one that brought people and took them away.
Once the largest barren land of the country, "Serra de Serpa" was split into 5516 equal parcels of land. These were given for free and by chance (à sorte) to the inhabitants of the region.
They started to be called sortes (fortunes), and there, sortes is still used as a land measuring unit. Many were fortunate to receive a Sorte, many sold it for little. My grandfather used to tell, some were given away for glasses of wine.
Each then built earth houses (montes) onto their sortes and started clearing and farming the land to make bread, olive oil, cork and others.
For a century, these isolated farmers worked very hard for their subsistence with little to no infrastructure. But this solitude was also channeled into stories. Work was sung and life ́s harshness turned verse.

SORTES makes a subjective portrait of Serra de Serpa and surroundings with its subsistence farmers whose lifestyle is becoming more and more obsolete.
A tale told from the viewpoint of the subjects, farmers and remaining popular poets like Eulálio Alves, a lifelong shepherd turned swineherd that makes poetry, specifically “Décimas”. Structured verses that are kept in his trained memory for he cannot read or write.
Or “Ti Chico dos Melões”, a farmer, charcoal maker and peddler living in a container with half a hectare of melons that he sells from village to village, writing his poetry in between stops.
Despite the specificity of this place, the problems lived by this community can be understood in a global context, as a pars pro toto. The loss of rurality and replacing of small-scale farming (and adjacent cultures) by industrial farming is felt not only here but in many parts of the world.

In my work I portray people and traditions in the shadow of a fast, efficient society that wants to be all-encompassing.
Stubbornly yet fortunately, life insists to exist in other inconspicuous manners.