Our Beloved Month of August

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Our Beloved Month of August
PRODUCED AND ABANDONED Gomes, left, gets a lecture from a film investor.

In New York, the last month of summer is traditionally when folks flee to any destination that doesn’t bring to mind a large ape’s armpit. For Portugal’s rural residents, August means one long string of music festivals. Filmmaker Miguel Gomes hadn’t set out to make a documentary on those events; his original idea was to do a fiction narrative. (Apparently, it involved a credit sequence full of falling dominoes.) Once he lost funding, however, the dogged director started shooting the seasonal concerts in order to salvage his project, as well as anything else he saw: religious processions, testimonies from a local folk hero, a radio DJ doing on-air patter. Occasionally, Gomes appears onscreen to potentially cast a future movie—or maybe even the one you’re watching. Then a musician starts up a romance that may or may not be faked. Oh, and also...

Part of a generation of cinegeeks that views real-versus-reel blurring as their God-given aesthetic right, Gomes is clearly having fun mixing a Mondo Portugal portrait with meta-pranksterism. Which doesn’t mean that August never devolves into a shambling mess; despite its creator’s puckish charm, the movie occasionally sputters and detours down dead ends. Still, the promise on display is impressive; consider the film a calling card from someone to keep a very close eye on.—David Fear

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