Portuguese fiction: 5 suggestions of films and series
Unpopular opinion: to be “good”, Portuguese fiction doesn’t always have to be artsy. Sometimes it’s okay to watch some mainstream shows and films.
Watching local fiction is a great way to understand the creative vibe of a country. The same goes for novels, too, if you can easily find Portuguese books translated into English.
Some of my suggestions below are available on streaming services like Netflix and HBO (although, as far as I know, they might only be available in Portugal), the Portuguese public television channel streaming website (RTP Play), and I’m sure all of them might be available online in places like YouTube.
"Os Ultimos dias de Emanuel Raposo", Diogo Lima
There is a creative movement (inadvertently started by film director Francisco Lacerda) called Azoresploitation. The umbrella term is used to define all films (regardless of genre) created in the Azores Islands and by local artists, with a lot of obscure references that maybe only Azoreans get. Give this mockumentary a watch and let me know. The Vimeo version (link below) is subtitled in English.
"Mutant Blast", Fernando Alle
Granted, it’s not a film for all tastes, but this Troma-produced movie is Fernando Alle’s first feature and did not get the love it deserved from Portuguese audiences (especially from the genre fans). In a nutshell, it’s a movie about
zombies, climate change, and the raging war between a dolphin and a lobster. It’s available for free (not subtitled) on RTP Play.
"Causa Própria", João Nuno Pinto
This seven-episode crime show is available on HBO Max (Portugal), with English subtitles. I binge-watched it recently (that’s how invested in the show I was) and despite one or two minor plot holes, it’s a well-written series with a great cast.
"Pôr do Sol" - Manuel Pureza, Henrique Dias and Rui Melo
Although if you don’t understand Portuguese most of the jokes might get lost on you, I think viewers can still grasp the silly humor of this show. “Pôr do Sol” is a fake telenovela (soap opera) that uses every cliché in the book. The best part? All the cast are well-known Portuguese soap operas actors and actresses.
The first season came out in the summer of 2021 and its success exceeded the creators’ expectations. It’s available on Netflix (Portugal) and RTP Play.
"Alma Viva", Cristèle Alves Meira
“Alma Viva” is the first feature film of French-Portuguese director Cristèle Alves Meira. Loosely inspired by her childhood experiences when she spent the summers with her family at a village in Trás-os-Montes, the movie was selected by the Portuguese Film Academy as Portugal’s candidate for a 2023 Oscar nomination.