by João Viana
(Portugal 2013, 13 minutes)
Tabatô is the name of the village in Guinea-Bissau. An old man with a trolley comes back to the village. He doesn’t speak to anyone. A shot is heard and right after that the old man falls down and we believe him dead. But he stands up and continues trotting and meets his family. He doesn’t speak, so the curious daughter wants to know what’s in his suitcase and opens it. She finds a steel box with strange steel objects in it that can’t really be identified. Some kind of water tap with an appendix, a headphone for one ear, some kind of riot stick, and a rectangular box. They all seem useless. In flashback in black and white we learn more about these objects. In wartime the man worked with these objects. Now, the war is over, and he has nothing left but his war memories. Those bad memories come back one by one when the drums of the village are playing. The louder they play the more cruel the war scenes become. It must have been the colonial war, but it isn’t so stated because it is not necessary. Every war is cruel and brutal, director João Viana (46) tells. The traumatized old man doesn’t know what he wants nor what he was fighting for. It is not sure he recognizes the members of his family and the friends in the small village where everyone is a musician. He tries to acclimate but is always thinking about the war. Viana’s short film is a shocking study for his feature film “The Battle of Tabatô” (2013) where the story of the veteran is part of a closer look into a village in postwar time.
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