It’s this time of the year again …. November 5th is coming soon and with it the Augen Blicke African Film Festival in Hamburg (Germany)! The dates this year are November 5th till November 15th, and venue is as always the Studio-Kino Hamburg (Bernstorffstrasse 93-95, Hamburg). Entry to all films will be max. 8 Euros. Click here to get to the exciting programme of the African Filmfestival in Hamburg.
We caught up with Filipe Henriques (Director and Writer) over email to discuss his movie „O ESPINHO DA ROSA (THE THORN OF THE ROSE), why he had to leave his hometown Guinea-Bissau and much more!
I often lose myself in who I am and need to get back to the roots to rediscover me.
Frolicious: This year the film festival in Hamburg (Germany) “Augen Blicke Afrika“ is going to screen your first feature movie „O ESPINHO DA ROSA (THE THORN OF THE ROSE). Are you excited to see how the audience will receive your work?
Filipe Henriques: It is quite rewarding to see the route that the film has had to International Film Festivals. To date the film has been shown at 25 International Film Festivals, notably FESPACO (Burkina Faso), Pan African Film Festival (Los Angeles), Africa Movie Academy Award (South Africa) and Fantasporto (Portugal) and has earned 9 awards including Best African Film, Best International Film and Best Director among other awards. It was with great honor and pleasure that I received the invitation to participate in “Augen Blicke Afrika” and here I express my gratitude for the invitation.
Although the film has been in several international film festivals around the world, the excitement of seeing the audience’s reaction to my work never decreases. Yes, I am very curious and with some anticipation to see how the public will receive the film. Because I might appreciate more what the audiences really need from me in terms that no one else can understand. And I love the thought of an engaged audience, I can get to know them and involve them in my own thoughts, especially when they’re chatting with me live after the screening. You get to know and see who your audience really is.
Frolicious: Please tell us about your movie. What is the story about?
Filipe Henriques: “O Espinho Da Rosa (The Thorn Of The Rose)” is a story about a successful prosecutor David Lunga (Júlio Mesquita) who finds himself wrapped up in a case of corruption and murder after meeting the beautiful Rosa (Ady Batista). David Lunga’s success is overshadowed by the terrifying secrets of Rosa, a beautiful but mysterious woman with whom he falls in love. As he examines the case further, it begins to bring back horrible memories of his past that he had been trying to ignore. As the macabre facts unravel, David comes face to face with his own demons and is driven to prove his innocence, recover his reputation and, above all, clear his own conscience.
“The Thorn of the Rose” is a film whose plot unfolds in the present, passing however, by a ghostly dimension, which will interconnect to the point of no turning back. The film takes us to a deep, heavy and urban reality, through two specific cases of pedophilia that create an imbalance in the normal and cause a lot of emotions in the viewer. The story combines serious and current issues such as the scourges of pedophilia and incest, with feelings common to us all: love, hate and revenge in an environment surrounded by a super natural force and unknown energies.
Watch Trailer: THE THORN OF THE ROSE
Frolicious: How did the idea come up, what inspired you?
Filipe Henriques: I always had a taste for storytelling, and this comes from my childhood days, the evenings that followed after dinner – hot nights without electricity in Bissau – inspired elders to tell stories, and to my father, who liked to go to the veranda with me, where I sat listening to the fantastic and often frightening stories.
The film was inspired by the fantastic world in which I grew up, hearing so many fantastic stories. One such well-known story was the “Goat–foot”, a Guinea-Bissau myth that I adapted to film. It was not enough to simply have a fantastic history but a more complex plot. Thus was born the social theme, addressing the issue of pedophilia and incest. It is not easy to entertain and at the same time bring a sensitive social message, hence the film resulted in a fantastic drama.
Frolicious: You were born in Bissau and were forced to move to Portugal at the age of 18. Today people are forced to move from one place to another. Looking back, how are your thoughts about the situation today? Does it influence you in your movies?
Filipe Henriques: The forcible change due to an armed conflict is a crisis that is emerging. People are forced to move to try to escape the violence and others just looking for better living conditions. One of the most complex situations of my life was being forced to a change which I was not prepared to prevent violence in which my country was. To leave our country and start all over again with a hand back and another forward in a land that is not ours is a painful situation. We ask for help to people and feel ashamed but we have to survive and I survived.
I always go back whenever I can to Guinea-Bissau, because the highest value I have, the human value, came from there. I often lose myself in who I am and need to get back to the roots to rediscover me. Portugal offers me the professional side, intellectual, technical and Guinea-Bissau gives me passion and inspiration. It is very important not forgetting our roots. As a director I think my biggest asset is to combine these two realities.
Frolicious: What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary?
Filipe Henriques: The Festivals segment is for new directors one of the largest showcases for the dissemination of films. Often the festivals are the first port of entry of a cinematographic work, in addition to being the main distribution channels of works by new directors with productions that do not appear in the supply chain.
In addition, the stimulus to cinema exhibition and the possibility of bringing the film to the public in the most distant cities from major centers are also directors goals. Being a young film director, the festival has been a blessing in the disclosure of my work. If it were not for the International Film Festivals and the will of God in my life it would have been impossible to publish my work. “O Espinho Da Rosa (The Thorn Of The Rose)” is the first Black film produced in Portugal. However, the film does not exist in Portugal because it is not acceptable for superficial reasons. Thanks to the festivals I was able to screen the film all over the world.
Frolicious: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Filipe Henriques: Reaping what I am today planting in due course assuring permanence in the long walk to praise the cinema and African culture. Planting is good and harvest is magnificent, but both require disposal, decision, attitude and perseverance.
Frolicious: What are your next projects?
Filipe Henriques: I’ve been having discussions about the possibility of a documentary about the liberation struggle of Guinea-Bissau. The history of the struggle for independence in Guinea is fascinating; the impact of this small country in world affairs may not find parallel in modern times.
I confess that it is an ambitious project but is actually a story that needs to be told. Africa needs to better know their leaders and its history. It is extremely necessary to extol the great African figures by establishing positive role models.
Promotional Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9jhbD-MMa8
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oespinhodarosa1?ref=bookmarks
Filipe Henriques Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/filipe.henriques3
AUGEN BLICKE AFRIKA film series
5th to 15th November 2015 in Hamburg (Germany)