Women trying to find their voice in society, facing existential struggles, in the early half of 20th century Europe, providing a window into their lives is Mario Barroso’s Portugese movie Moral Order. It had its World Premiere in the World Panorama section of 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
In 1918, Maria Adelaide Coelho, heiress and owner of a prominent newspaper, abandons and runs away with a chauffeur 22 years younger than her, seeking to escape from the social, cultural and family luxury in which she had been living. Maria’s role has been played by noted Portugese actor Maria de Medeiros.
Actor Vera Moura who plays the role of a maid serving the protagonist Maria, said, “The film is largely about women trying to find their voice in 20th century European society. It is based on a true story which happened in Portugal. It is about woman’s freedom where a woman shows the courage to take a bold step during that era. She belongs to one of the richest families in Portugal and she leaves that high class society.”
The actor said that the women-centric film brings out the struggle of women in both higher and lower strata of the society.
Actor Joao Pedro Mamedi, who plays the role of the chauffer Manuel Claro with whom Maria runs away to a new life, was also present at the press conference. He spoke about the complex life situation which led her to take the plunge. “All the characters gravitate around the main character Maria. Everyone is connected with her though her needs and wishes. There are various reasons which lead her to run away from her previous social environment. It could have been due to vengeance, love, or may even be madness. You have to watch the film to understand what precisely drove her to do this.”
Speaking about his role, Mamedi said, “I had not done any preparation for the role. I didn’t even have driver’s licence at the time. I started taking driving lessons only after the shooting commenced.”
Moura agreed, adding that it needs a lot of effort to play such complex characters: “For me, it was a beautiful process. It’s a beautiful movie; every scene of the film is like a painting. There is a lot of theatre in this film.”
The director of the movie Mario Barroso is considered one of the best and most famous Portuguese directors of photography and has worked with many renowned directors. He has directed short films, documentaries, television shows, TV films and three feature films.
Appreciating IFFI for organising the festival at this time, Joao and Moura said in unison, “It takes lot of courage to organise a film festival during the pandemic. We would love to watch some movies here at IFFI. It’s nice to be here in Goa and we hope we could come back next time too.”