Directed by Catarina Vasconcelos • 2020 • Portugal
An extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating documentary that has the feel of a precious heirloom, this impressionistic and emotionally rich film finds Portuguese director Catarina Vasconcelos sifting through the memories and dreams of her ancestors. In prismatic images, shot on 16 mm film, Vasconcelos presents her family’s lineage, starting with her grandfather Henrique, who married her grandmother Beatriz, on her twenty-first birthday; he then spent extended periods at sea as a naval officer, leaving her with an expanding brood of children. This is the beginning of a generational saga, told in shards of memory and voiceover. THE METAMORPHOSIS OF BIRDS achingly evokes the natural world—the changing seasons, the play of sunlight, the ever-flowing tides—that counterbalances and nurtures human life cycles.