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.
SORTES follows the life of the resisting inhabitants and their animals scattered around Serra de Serpa in the Alentejo region, Portugal. 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 NunesDirectorThe Ashes Remain Warm
Mónica Martins NunesProducerThe Ashes Remain Warm
Pedro Fernandes DuarteProducerThe Metamorphosis of Birds, Ghosts: Long Way Home, RUBY
Maria da Saúde ParreiraKey Cast"herself"
Eulálio AlvesKey Cast"himself"
Francisco BicaKey Cast"himself"
Mónica Martins NunesEditorThe Ashes Remain Warm
Mónica Martins NunesSound RecordingThe Ashes Remain Warm
Dídio PestanaSound editing and designSobre Tudo Sobre Nada, É na Terra não é na Lua
André NetoSound Mixing
Caio SoaresColorClub Splendida
Project Title (Original Language):Sortes
Project Type:Documentary, Experimental, Short
Runtime:38 minutes 46 seconds
Completion Date:April 15, 2021
Country of Origin:Portugal
Country of Filming:Portugal
Visions du ReélNyon
April 18, 2021
International Medium Length & Short Film Competition
Curtas de Vila do CondeVila do Conde, Porto e Lisboa
July 21, 2021
FIKE - Évora International Short Film FestivalÉvora
September 23, 2021
Official Selection - Winner of Public Award
November 21, 2021
Cinema Falado Competition
O Dia Mais Curtothroughout the whole country
December 21, 2021
Festival Filmer le TravailPoitiers
February 9, 2022
Hamburg Short Film FestivalHamburg
June 3, 2022
October 8, 2022
Competição de Curtas Metragens em língua portuguesa
Mónica Martins Nunes (1990, Lisbon) is a portuguese visual artist currently living in Berlin.
Having started her artistic work in ceramics and after studying Sculpture in Faculdade de Belas-Artes - Lisbon University,
she graduated in Fine Arts from the Universität der Künste Berlin.
In 2016 she became a Meisterschüler in the same institution
and was subsequently awarded the Elsa-Neumann-Stipendium (NaFöG) from the city of Berlin.
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
Her new film SORTES, filmed in her mother´s hometown "Serra de Serpa", premiered in the International Medium Length & Short Film Competition of Visions du Reél.
Photo: Beatriz Ramires
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.