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Library of African cinema. Fintar o destino = Dribbling fate

Fernando Vendrell director, producer.; Luís Alvarães producer.; California Newsreel (Firm), presenter, production company.; David & Golias, presenter, production company.

1998

Online access

  • Title:
    Library of African cinema. Fintar o destino = Dribbling fate
  • Author: Fernando Vendrell director, producer.; Luís Alvarães producer.; California Newsreel (Firm), presenter, production company.; David & Golias, presenter, production company.
  • Description: Fintar O Destino has the distinction of being the Library of African Cinema's first sports film - but a sports film with a decidedly African twist. It is the story, familiar from countless Hollywood movies and therefore easily accessible to American audiences, of an over the hill sports hero who holds onto his past so strongly he destroys his present. Think of Marlon Brando's famous lament from On the Waterfront, "I could've been a contender." At the same time, this film explores a much more general tension, personal and political, between remaining true to one's dreams or making the best of the limited opportunities around us. In Fintar o Destino this dilemma is posed in terms of an entire nation: whether Cape Verdeans should accept life on these isolated islands or should pursue their often unrealistic ambitions overseas. Indeed, this is a conflict faced by more and more people in the poorer countries of an increasingly mobile world. In Fintar O Destino character and fate are geographic, bound up with the unique history of the Cape Verde Islands. These ten volcanic islands located three hundred miles off the most westerly point of Africa were uninhabited until the Portuguese discovered them in 1462. They soon grew into a bustling port of call between Africa, Europe and the Americas developing a highly Creolized mulatto population. Since the islands have never been economically self-sufficient, emigration has been a central fact of Cape Verdeans' lives; islanders have established communities around the Atlantic, the largest one in southern New England. Cape Verdeans, most notably Amilcar Cabral, played a leading role in the liberation of their islands and Guinea-Bissau from Portuguese rule in 1973, as dramatized in another new lusophone release, Mortu Nega. But independence could not overcome financial dependency: today a majority of islanders live abroad and remittances from the West play a major role in the fragile economy. In the film, an old schoolteacher observes that "on an island men fear staying more than leaving." Perhaps this is the "dribbling fate" of the title, the islanders' sense of just passing time, waiting for the big chance to move. For many young men, the most exciting, if not realistic route off the island is to become a sports star, the illusory promise followed by so many inner city youth in this country, poignantly depicted in Hoop Dreams. The film's opening shot symbolizes this as we see a boy hoeing the island's arid volcanic soil only to realize he is actually marking out a soccer field. For the older men who have not found a way off the island, the only remaining escape is to live vicariously through the fortunes of their favorite team ignoring the mundane life all around them. The central character of the film, Mané, owns an unprofitable "sports bar" in Mindelo on the island of Saö Vicente, whose denizens are overgrown adolescents seemingly with little to do but root for Benfica, a major Portuguese team. Mané actually turned down an invitation to try out for Benfica in 1959 in order to marry a local girl; as a result his whole life has been consumed by regret, sinking into alcoholism, improvidence and an unhappy marriage. His situation finds an echo in the younger generation with Kalu, a talented teenager Mané is coaching who must decide whether to continue his rigorous training, emigrate to America or pursue a beautiful island ingenue. Mané develops an obsession that the only way Benfica can win the national championships is if he is present in the stadium in Lisbon. He steals money which his wife has painstakingly been saving, abandons her at home and flies to Portugal where he inevitably learns the lesson that it is always dangerous to test one's dreams against reality. In Portugal, he looks up an old friend, Americo, who accepted an invitation to play for Benfica and who has become something of a legend in Mindelo. Mané finds him a broken man living in a shack by the Tagus who pitifully asks him for change. In Lisbon, Mané stays with his upwardly mobile son, Alberto and his Portuguese wife. Alberto confesses he has always resented his father for neglecting his wife and children in favor of his soccer fanaticism. When Mané tries to compensate by attending his grandson's birthday party, he misses the big game; Benfica wins anyhow.
  • Publication Date: 1998
  • Publisher: San Francisco, CA : California Newsreel
  • Format: 1 online resource (76 minutes).
  • Subjects: Soccer players -- Cabo Verde; Soccer -- Cabo Verde; Middle-aged men -- Cabo Verde; Feature films; Fiction films; Sports films
  • Language: Portuguese;Creoles and pidgins, French-based
  • Source: 01DAL UDM ALMA

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