F.: António Matos/Tony. Prod.: Invicta Filmes Independente DCP. Bn.
Bárbara Virgínia is virtually absent from classic film histories, but has partially re-emerged in recent times, when women’s role in cinema has been reassessed. In 1946, at the age of 22, she became the first woman to direct a film in Portugal and is in all likelihood the only woman to direct a fiction film during the 40 years of Salazar’s Estado Novo. Aside from Três dias sem Deus, her debut film which was in competition at the first edition of Cannes, Virgínia made only this documentary in the same year and for the same production company, Invicta Filmes Independente, before moving to Brazil. With its pillow fights, races and dressing-up games, the film narrates the lost youth of children in a provincial orphanage with a less anarchic spirit than the poetry of Zero for Conduct (which we don’t know whether Virgínia had seen, given that it was long unavailable due to censorship) but nonetheless clearly and freely on the side of the children.