DROP BY DROP 2017. PT. 9 min

a film by Laura Gonçalves & Xá.

The last inhabitants of a village do not allow themselves to be submerged in oblivion. In a world where the idea of progress seems to be above all, this house floats.

Novocine: “Drop by Drop" is a documentary, based on trips you both made through the interior of the country. What led you to these testimonies, and how did they shape the creation of this animated village? Is it an imagined village?

Our idea was to work on two themes:
The first theme was carnival as intangible heritage and the second was the construction of dams as an idea of progress that left great marks on village life.With these ideas as a backdrop, we went on to choose places to visit. I don't think it was clear at the time what we wanted to tell, but these were themes that were dear to us, and that aroused our concerns and curiosity. With alack of definition regarding the theme, we wanted to be available to learn more about the realities we were going to encounter.
When interviewing the people we met, the most common conversations were about desertification. People often spoke to us about what it was like to feel forgotten in the interior of the country. The village in the film is a mixture of four places we visited: Aigra Nova, Tua, Vilarinho das Furnas and Sistelo, thus creating an imagined place based on real villages.

NC: What was the process of developing the narrative for “Drop by Drop" like? Did you have a clear idea from the start or did the narrative change throughout the production process, especially taking into account the stylistic decision to use engravings and the sound recordings captured in a "documentary" way"?

Unlike other projects we've developed together, in Água Mole the narrative was built up over the course of the film. We realized that we had more creative freedom if we were available to take in interviews, landscapes and moments that those trips brought us. First we did the interviews, then we created a fictionalized narrative that connected them. The desire to work on real sound recordings, as well as exploring the engraving technique, was something we knew we wanted to explore in the world of animation, even before our first trip.

NC: The film deals with a subject that is very contemporary, the desertification of villages. How do you feel that, through the parallel created by the ingress of water, this idea of a cycle of life passing away has been reinforced?

One of the images that helped us define this film was seeing the submerged houses of the Vilarinho das Furnas dam. There's a very beautiful and poetic side to seeing houses underwater, but it also gives you a feeling of suffocating oblivion.
Given that one of our basic ideas was dams, and that people's discourse centered on the fact that they were forgotten there, water became a central element in the film.
Another element that also helped us approach the idea of emigration was the wind. We saw John Ford's Grapes of Wrath during our travels and I think that was something that stuck with us and was reflected in the way we made the film.

NC: Sound plays a fundamental role in your short film, creating a unique and immersive atmosphere. Can you tell us about your approach to sound design and how it complements the visual narrative, each enhancing the textural experience of the other?

You could say that we have two types of sound: the one that was recorded in the villages we visited, which we believe helps us immerse ourselves in those places, and the sound that was built after working on the fictionalized narrative, which helped us create the dreamlike reality by bringing together all the real villages.
These two types of sound are constantly interconnected. At the moment when the careto grows, there is a somewhat abstract sound that was constructed with overlapping and distorted interview excerpts.
Just as in visual narrative, in sound, the barriers between what is real and what is fictionalized are not clear, they are an amalgam.

NC: What projects or artistic directions are you currently exploring? Are there any future plans you can share with us?

We're currently finalizing a new animated documentary centered on younger people who bring us their testimony of what it's like to live in an Algarve town whose development has been completely shaped by the tourism mono-industry. In this documentary we want to praise the relationship that these people have with the place and the sea, using the journey that barnacles make from the rock to the plate. In places like this, people, fauna and flora are in constant resistance to remain in their home.