Desobedoc Film Festival 2019 Edition: When Politics and Culture Merge to Produce Something Beautiful

The Desobedoc – mostra de cinema insubmisso is an insubmissive documentary film show co-hosted by transform! europe and Bloco de Esquerda that started in Porto, in 2014.

The idea underlining this open-to-the-public festival was to screen politically engaged movies, to promote the political debate and to open movie theatres that had long been closed in downtown Porto. The first two editions of Desobedoc took place in “Cinema Trindade”, which had been closed for 15 years, and since 2017 is now open to the public with daily movie sessions. In 2016 and 2017, Desobedoc moved to “Cinema Batalha”, an emblematic movie theatre closed for decades, and which is now in the possession of the Mayor House of Porto and is expected to reopen in a near future.  These four editions of the Desobedoc were a success in terms of participation and in the creation of a public eager to watch the documentaries and participate in the debates that Desobedoc promotes.

After a year of interregnum in Porto, with Desobedoc taking place in five other Portuguese cities, we decided to return to Porto. This years’ edition was staged at Círculo Católico de Operários do Porto, a 120 year old association of catholic workers, originally funded to struggle for fair salaries and the right to Sunday rest.

The opening session took place in the day we celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, with the participation of Walter Baier representing transform! europe. The necessity for the European Left to recover the memory of dictatorships, to reclaim as our common heritage the democratic revolutions that overthrew fascisms in the eve of the European Parliamentary elections in a context of the rise of the far-right throughout Europe, were highlighted. The screening of “El silencio de Otros” by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar (2018), a documentary about the struggle of the  victims of Franco’s dictatorship for justice and reparation and a session co-hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation -Madrid and a premiere in Portugal, received a standing ovation from the public and was followed by an intense debate with one of the protagonists, Chato Galante.

For the next three days, in the two cinema rooms and in open air, almost twenty other documentaries were exhibited, opening the stage for the new and old feminist movements (which also included an exhibition in the hall of the venue), the rhoma community, immigrants, prison population, LGBTQ+ activism, …, promoting the proximity, the debate, and the exchange of ideas and experiences among party members, activists from grassroot social movements and the overall public. Over 2000 people attended the 2019 Desobedoc edition in Porto.

The organization of Desobedoc is collective, counting on more than 50 people that engage in the film selection and programming, and staging the event, not only in Porto but in other Portuguese cities – this year shorter versions of Desobedoc will also take place in seven other Portuguese cities.

Six Desobedoc successful editions have now taken place, a clear demonstration of culture’s role as a shared and powerful language within the Left, which we must cherish and promote.