April 19-29, 2018

Plot

Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for endangered black storks along a remote river in northern Portugal, binoculars in hand, when he is suddenly swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a pair of Chinese hikers who claim to be pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela, Fernando (Paul Hamy) is transported to a sylvan region of Iberia that belies the typical terrain you’d expect along the Camino. Suffice it to say he is now very much at the mercy of an eerie and seemingly self-aware forest, trying to get back on the right trail. Director João Pedro Rodrigues’ heady expedition channels the trippier elements of an eco-psych quest like Ciro Guerra’s 2015 masterpiece Embrace of the Serpent and welds them to the emotional journey of Pasolini’s stations-of-the-cross vérité The Gospel According to St. Matthew, to almost transcendental effect. Gradually, as Fernando encounters ever more uncanny obstacles and unexpected forest denizens who put him to the test, he is impelled to take extreme actions which transform him in unknowable ways. Little by little, he becomes a different man, inspired, multi-faceted and finally, approaching enlightenment. But will it be enough to put him back on the path to salvation before the forest claims him forever?

Screenings