Lúcia Prancha revisits one of Manoel de Oliveira’s films in a new project

Lúcia Prancha, a Portuguese visual artist currently based in the United States, is working in Porto on her next project, with support from Filmaporto’s Pascaud grant. “O Pão” (Bread) proposes to revisit the film of the same name directed by Manoel de Oliveira in 1959.

The experimental short film “O Pão” (Bread) continues the research that Lúcia Prancha developed in Los Angeles for her video installation, “Bread Story” (2019) based on Bertolt Brecht’s script, “The Bread–King Learns to Bake Bread”, written in 1941 for the MGM studios. The story – which was rejected and never adapted to the cinema – combines a critique of the American consumer society and the Hollywood production model. During her research, she discovered Manoel de Oliveira’s 1959 film, “O Pão”, made with funding from the National Federation of Milling Industries. Although the institution was unhappy with the final product, the film offered a poetic socio–economic portrait of Portugal in the late 1950s – of the countryside and the city, in terms of society and work.

In 2022, Lúcia Prancha proposes a new approach to the topic, based on processes similar to those used in Oliveira’s documentary – interviews with workers in bakeries, factories and production companies. She explains that: “Bread, which plays such a fundamental role in the Portuguese diet, is such a simple foodstuff, but is simultaneously a vast and complex topic, especially at a historical and political level. For example we see this in the current food crisis caused by the Russian blockade on the export of Ukrainian cereals”.

Lúcia Prancha emphasises that “O Pão” (Bread) is not a remake but instead offers a critical approach to Oliveira’s film, marked by a gender perspective. The short film includes interviews with women entrepreneurs in the industry, whose businesses are based on sustainable practices and new forms of production. “In Manoel de Oliveira’s film, we see the man as a representative of workers and industry. In this version, the woman occupies a more active role. I am interested in highlighting women and forms of production that pay special attention to consumption and production needs,” she explains. “My artistic work focuses on these questions: giving voice to gender and labour issues.”

Lúcia Prancha also highlights the conceptual importance of working with a female team. For this project, she invited two collaborators from Porto: Tânia Teixeira (Director) and Alexandra Guimarães (Sound Director).

The research and shooting are taking place in several locations in Porto, including the centenary Moagem Ceres, in Campanhã, the Padaria Artesanal Masseira, in Cedofeita, and the archive of the Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira of Fundação Serralves.

With its premiere scheduled for the end of this year, “O Pão” is one of the projects supported, in 2021, by the Pascaud Grant from Filmaporto, aimed at artists, directors and producers residing outside Porto who intend to film in the city and with professionals from the city.