This story explores the mid-century archival films by woman musician Margot Dias who documented life in the extreme north of Mozambique Africa, then a Portuguese colony. The films are an unprecedented visual and sound records of the Makonde culture. Filmmaker Catarina Alves Costa brings these color films and black and white photographs back to the community. Contemporary musicians, artists and a new generation reflect on these images and this period of colonial history. Alongside, we learn about Dias’ life and work in her own words.

  • Catarina Alves Costa
  • Pedro Borges
  • Gabriel Mondlane
  • joao ribeiro
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  • Runtime:
    1 hour 12 minutes 21 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 11, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Mozambique, Portugal
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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  • LisbonDocs
    October 11, 2022
  • DOK.fest Munchen
    May 4, 2023
  • Ethnocineca
    May 5, 2023
  • 32nd International Festival of Ethnological Film
    September 29, 2023
  • MDOC International Documentary Film Festival
    August 4, 2023
Distribution Information
  • Midas Filmes
    Country: Portugal
Director Biography - Catarina Alves Costa

Catarina Alves Costa is a filmmaker and anthropologist.
She directed, among other films, Margot (2022), Pedra e Cal (2016), Falamos de António Campos (2010), Nacional 206 (2009), O Arquiteto e a Cidade Velha (2004), Senhora Aparecida (1994) and recently co-directed A Ramadan in Lisbon (2019). Among others, she received the Best Documentary Award at the Recife Ethnographic Film Festival, the Critics Award at the Caminhos do Cinema Português, the Planéte Award at the Bilan du Film Ethnographique, the Excellence Award from the Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association Film Festival, USA and the 1st Prize of the VII Rassegna Internazionale di Documentari Etnografici festival. She recently released the book Cinema e Povo, 2022.

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Director Statement

This film is composed of different layers: the original footage recorded by Margot in her journeys to Mozambique; the images that I filmed on my trip to Mozambique, looking for the same gestures of tradition, basketry and pottery, musicians and musical instruments she recorded; and a long conversation with Margot Dias, that I recorded on video in 1996, when I was a young student and Margot was 90 years old.

In this documentary, we will gradually unravel the circumstances in which this original filming happened, during the period of Portuguese domination of Mozambique. From Margot Dias' handwritten notebooks, sounds and photographs, we set out in search of an unprecedented narrative, a unique life story based on a unique odyssey and what was intentionally hidden about it.

We will also travel to Margot's youth in the 1920’s bohemian neighborhood of Shwabing, in Germany, to reveal how her appeal for traveling, for the exotic, nature and hiking, as well as her life as a pianist, were later relevant to her fantasy of filming and recording the musical instruments in Mozambique.

All these layers are linked by a personal and subjective narrative in which I look for the answer to many of the questions that I’ve posed myself as a director, in the figure of Margot. I gradually think about the encounter that Margot had with Mozambique, the encounter that we had with each other, and how I have seen now, and through her, the same country. When meeting the Makonde who live today on the outskirts of the city of Maputo and giving them back part of their history, I found their reaction unexpected: Margot's films and photographs awakened in those Africans a strong ethnic identity.