Joaquim Pinto’s personal essay on living with illness debuted last year at Locarno, where it claimed both FIPRESCI and Special Jury Prizes. It went on to screen at the New York Film Festival, Rotterdam, Vancouver, QueerLisboa, Hong Kong, Thessaloniki Doc, RIDM, Valdivia, DocLisboa, San Francisco, CPH:DOX, Edinburgh, and Seattle, among others. The Film Society’s week-long run comes in conjunction with a retrospective of Pinto’s previously directed films, as well as those he worked on as an acclaimed sound recordist and designer.
Over the course of nearly three hours, Pinto lays bare a year of his life – one marked by experimental treatments to keep both his HIV and Hepatitis C in check. Traveling between home in Portugal, clinic visits in Madrid, and a Summer farming project in the Azores, the director, his reticent husband Nuno, and their four expressive dogs figure in a compelling collage of sound and image, punctuated by Pinto’s running voiceover. With candor and vulnerability, he chronicles the effects of drugs on his system, and on his memory, the spectre of his mortality hanging over the entire project, brought into focus through reflections on past colleagues and mentors who have succumbed to AIDS. While this year-in-the-life conceit provides the film with a structure, it’s ultimately a loose one, with Pinto regularly indulging in welcome tangents through space and time, or shifting the focus away from himself to acknowledge the state of the world – such as the global financial crisis and conflict in Syria – or to reveal moments of sublime natural beauty, from the opening shot of a slug to a bee eating a hamburger to a dragonfly hovering around a blade of grass.