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Both a “lockdown journal” and a piece of fiction, this collaboration between Portuguese auteurs pushes the limits between truth and tale.

Crista Alfaiate, Carloto Cotta and João Nunes Monteiro are living together and building a large greenhouse for the butterflies in their area. Summer days stretch out endlessly as they tend to their garden and share household duties. But, as the world slows down around them, they discover they are not the only ones whose lives have taken on a repetitive rhythm.

Lisbon-based Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights Volumes 1, 2 and 3, MIFF 2015) enlisted the talents of documentarian Maureen Fazendeiro when the pandemic caused another project he was working on to be put on hold. Shot in Portugal on grainy 16mm, every frame of the resulting film – which premiered as part of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes – is infused with the palpable pulse of heat and the glorious burning colours of summer, capturing the long, languid days that defined lockdowns across the globe. The Tsugua Diaries is an unforgettable, beautiful sensory experience that truly defies description.

“Perhaps the oddest, certainly the most playful product of lockdown cinema.” – Screen Daily