The fish market and the fish

This film shows pic­tures of daily life in the Por­tuguese fish­ing vil­lage Ses­im­bra, south of Lisbon, during Salazar’s dic­ta­tor­ship in 1964. Mau’s pho­tographs of fish dis­played in geo­met­ric pat­terns and Fichte’s spoken text com­ple­ment one anoth­er. The latter seems like notes of an inter­view with a typ­i­cal young fish­er­man who goes out to sea at night, lives in a two-room apart­ment with his par­ents and sib­lings, per­haps has a fiancée he can’t afford to marry, and has to serve his mil­i­tary duty soon or has just returned from serv­ing in Angola. Yes, some people are tor­tured. Yes, there are spies every­where. These two remarks offset the oth­er­wise harm­less descrip­tions. The list of all the names of fish that enable the vil­lage to sur­vive in col­lec­tive pover­ty is long.

The day of a casual dock worker

He gets up around five, when the man who is writ­ing about him goes to bed.” This is how the author Hubert Fichte begins his story about the “casual dock worker.”

Leonore Mau, a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, orig­i­nal­ly did not know much about photofilms, but she learned quick­ly. Rough­ly 500 pho­tographs were needed for 20 min­utes of film. Mau had gotten to know the dock worker in the Palette bar. She fol­lowed him with her camera, pho­tograph­ing him at home with his family, on his way to work, to the “Admi” (where jobs are assigned), to the launch­es, to the boat hatch­es, and later to his reg­u­lar bar around the corner. At the end of the day, each docker had moved 660 bags, equal­ing 30 tons. The spoken text and images, which are inter­spersed with short film sequences in a kind of tele­vi­sion format, create a pre­cise report about life on the docks.