Cinema and Emigration During the Estado Novo

Was there an influence of cinema on the phenomenon of Portuguese emigration during the Estado Novo?

17.06.24 - 16h43

On March 18th, Lusófona University welcomed Prof. Dr. Moisés de Lemos Martins, director of the Faculty of Communication, Architecture, Arts, and Information Technologies (FCAATI), and his guest Prof. Dr. João Sousa Cardoso. The conference, organized by the FCAATI management, aimed to depict different angles and perspectives of the Estado Novo, particularly the connection between cinema and emigration during the Estado Novo.

The conference began with a brief introduction by Prof. Dr. Moisés de Lemos Martins, who presented the topic and the speakers. During the lecture, several films were discussed, and the persistent issues even 50 years after the Estado Novo were analyzed, especially related to Portuguese emigration to countries such as France during the dictatorial regime in Portugal.

The topic was introduced with a historical analysis of Portuguese emigration, highlighting that over a period of 10 years, more than 1 million Portuguese migrated to France, amidst the context of the dictatorship in Portugal. This mass migration was pointed out as a reflection of the discontent and difficulties faced in the country at that time. The living conditions of these emigrants in Paris were also mentioned, many of whom lived in shantytowns due to poverty. It was emphasized that Portuguese people working in France are sometimes marginalized when they visit Portugal, due to the perception that they have a higher financial standard of living. Prof. Dr. João Sousa Cardoso stressed that emigration serves as a mirror reflecting the reality of the country, highlighting: “Emigration is a magnifying glass on what the country is.”

Prof. João Sousa Cardoso, a renowned expert in the field, discussed films that depict this period and its consequences. Among the highlighted films are: "O Salto" (Christian de Chalonge, 1967); "Gagner La Vie" (João Canijo, 2000), which addresses the experience of a filmmaker who films the Portuguese community in Paris; "Explication des Salamandres" (Maria Pinto, 2005); "Sans Elle" (Anna da Palma, 2003); among others.

Images related to the films and the historical context were shown, allowing for an in-depth analysis of the theme of Portuguese emigration and its cinematic representations. Prof. João Sousa Cardoso emphasized the importance of these works as historical records and reflections on national identity and the Portuguese diaspora.

The lecture was enriching and provoked reflections on the historical and cultural legacy of Portuguese emigration, highlighting how cinema can be a powerful tool to better understand our own history and identity.

Patrícia Lopes

Catarina Machado


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