Walking through the lively streets of Lisbon, no one would guess the depth of the economic crisis affecting Portugal, culminating in the call for exceptional austerity measures. It was under such difficult circumstances that the ninth edition of the IndieLisboa film festival took place this year.
Having endured a 30 per cent cut in its budget, festival director Nuno Sena said during a speech that launched the 11-day festival on April 26 that IndieLisboa had to rethink its strategy to make ends meet - and it was determination and inventiveness, plus some necessary changes in the structure of the event, which made it possible.
Selected by three co-directors - Sena, Miguel Valverde and Rui Pereira - the programme embraced a wide range of genres and formats in presenting international independent productions.
The festival also provided a showcase for Portugal's budding cineastes. Examples include Jesus for a Day by Helena Inverno and Ver?nica Castro, a captivating, subtly humorous documentary about the staging of the Way of the Cross by a group of prison inmates, and Regina Pessoa's Kali, the Little Vampire, a short animation.
Finally, the medium-length film Cat's Cradle by Filipa Reis and Joao Miller Guerra, with its masterful narrative and Joana Santos' poignant turn as a heroic single mother, revealed to the world two talented young directors.
In the international competition, the Chilean road movie Thursday till Sunday by Dominga Sotomayor is a skilful, intimate and nostalgic portrait of a family on the brink of dissolution, and was the deserved winner of the City of Lisbon grand prize.
Also making an appearance in Lisbon this year was the Vienna International Film Festival, which began its 50th anniversary celebration by bringing five films (under the banner 'Happy Birthday Viennale') drawn from its five decades of existence, among them Czech director Vera Chytilova's 1966 film Daisies.
Furthermore, Werner Herzog and Michael Glawogger - two auteurs honoured in the past by the festival as 'independent heroes' - were invited back to screen their latest work, with the German Herzog bringing the death-row documentary Into the Abyss and the Austrian Glawogger the skin-trade treatise Whore's Glory.
Last but not least, for the first time, the Indie by Night programme transformed a whole street into 'Rua do Indie Lisboa', offering festival-goers exciting after-screening events, including evenings with fado songs as well as underground performances and DJ sets.