"In Luanda, air conditioning devices start to fall mysteriously from buildings. Matacedo's mission, security, is to repair one of the machines. His search marks the starting point for a film about the history of this city and the people who try rebuild their lives after the civil war ", can be read in the synopsis of the film, premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
This character, as well as the others that cross and relate to him - Zezinha, a domestic worker, and Kota Mino, owner of a household goods store - come from a side of Luanda "which, in a way, is invisible".
"We have many security guards, many veterans of the Civil War, and to speak of this layer, of these workers and domestic workers, having them as protagonists in a film history, is something that almost never happens when we make films in Angola," he explained to Lusa.
The author of "Independência" (2015) counts here with Ely Carver, as cinematographer and co-writer, in a film with a soundtrack by Aline Frazão, and "a bit of magical realism", something that "is very well within the narratives and realities that seem like fiction in Angola ".
"Conditioned air comes in as an important and symbolic element, which represents this system and conditioning that these people live in the city of Luanda," he explained.
This "fictional film, with a very large dose of reality", portrays a Luanda that "exists today", where air conditioning systems do not fall but where it has already seen "a refrigerator thrown from a window". It includes inhabitants of a building that, in addition to setting, brought a community that helped produce the film, and also joined the cast itself.
"That building and that street are part of downtown Luanda, but a part that is being pushed every day, every year, an old part, which is not glazed and aesthetically is not beautiful to be a postcard of the city It was important to have this look and show it. Each character in the film - I speak of Matacedo, Zezinha and Kotamino - represents how we Luandenses face the day-to-day, "said the director.
Fradique wrote Matacedo as "a little apathetic, following his day", and cheering up when he is with Zezinha, who "lives forward and has no time to lose", even though he reflects in the past when he is accompanied. And there is the "older generation" of Kota Mino, who "has achieved independence and is concerned with rescuing memories and finding salvation in the past".
The covid-19 pandemic ended up not affecting the premiere, since the film was shown in Rotterdam, still in January, but it affected subsequent trips and other festival attendances, "almost everything canceled or postponed".
He was awarded in Innsbruck and passed through China, India, and has just made his debut, in 'drive in' format, in Angola. He now arrives in Portugal, in a year in which "it was important that the films and festivals did not stop", and made an adaptation for 'online', he said.
"This is a film that even inside Angola, people inside Luanda will feel and perceive and 'empathize' differently than someone from Benguela, Huambo, more from the interior. People from Luanda who live in buildings have an experience completely different. There is always a level of closeness and empathy that depends on the audience, "said the director.
Even so, he recalled, these characters "have managed to reach very different audiences" and "dialogue with different realities", which he considers "very rewarding" and gives "strength to make this type of cinema".
For the future, he has a project under development "for almost five years", in this case, "a period film" that leaves him with "a lot of desire", even if it involves some complexity for the shooting.
This project is based on the novel "O Reino das Casuarinas", by Angolan author José Luís Mendonça, a book that he considers "one of the best novels" in Angola, "that never had much visibility" and that dialogues with the same themes that he explores as a filmmaker: "Memory, the past, social differences and how we treat each other in society", which "escapes meet to deal with suffering and death".
"Air Conditioning", with music by Aline Frazão, features in the cast with, among others, José Kiteculo, Filomena Manuel, David Caracol, Priest, Tito Spyck and Filipe Pali.
Director Fradique, who was born in 1986 in Angola, is one of the founders of Geração 80, which produced this film.
Before "Air Conditioning", Fradique, who studied cinema in the United States of America, made the short films "Kiari" (2007) and "Alabamento" (2010), and the documentary "Independência" (2015), which "leaves of memories of the colonial situation in Angola, reveals the initial steps of the liberation struggle and covers some of its main scenarios ".