Colossal Youth
Directed byPedro Costa
Written byPedro Costa
Produced byFrancisco Villa-Lobos
  • Ventura
  • Vanda Duarte
  • Beatriz Duarte
  • Cila Cardoso
  • Alberto "Lento" Barros
  • Pedro Costa
  • Leonardo Simões
Edited byPedro Marques
Music byNuno Carvalho
Distributed byMemento Films
Release dates
  • November 23, 2006 (2006-11-23) (Portugal)
  • April 28, 2007 (2007-04-28) (SFIFF)
Running time
155 minutes
LanguagesCape Verdean Creole

Colossal Youth (Portuguese: Juventude em Marcha, literally "Youth on the March") is a 2006 docufiction feature film directed by Portuguese director Pedro Costa. The film was shot on DV in long, static takes and mixes documentary and fiction storytelling. The third feature by Costa set in Lisbon's Fontainhas neighborhood (after In Vanda's Room and Ossos), Colossal Youth is a meditation on the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution and its consequences for Portugal's poverty-stricken Cape Verdean immigrants. It was part of the Official Competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


The film opens with a nighttime shot of a doorway in a run-down neighborhood. Furniture comes crashing down on the pavement from a second-floor window, followed by a close shot of a woman holding a knife and ranting. As in other parts of the movie, relationships of time and space between shots are not clear. It is not certain that the woman was the one throwing out the furniture or that the man she is complaining about is Ventura, the 75-year-old main character. (Like most of the film's other characters, Ventura is played by a nonprofessional.) Much of the film is taken up with Ventura's visits to other people in the area, many of whom he refers to as his "children." Sometimes in return, they refer to him as "Papa." It is unlikely but also unclear that Ventura and any of the others are actually related. Ventura's term could be a result of age and disorientation. The others' references to "Papa" could be a way of either honoring or simply humoring him. At other times, Ventura is shown in his new, bright but almost barren, government-provided apartment, which contrasts sharply with the squalid and dark tenements that are due to be destroyed. Those rooms are often filmed in a high-contrast chiaroscuro that makes them strangely beautiful.

Ventura is often heard verbally composing the opening of a letter to someone who was apparently a former wife or lover, but whether this was someone that he actually knew, either in the Cape Verde Islands before emigrating or elsewhere, also remains unclear. It is also unlikely that the letter will ever be actually written, let alone sent to anyone. At times in the film, there are also allusions to past lives in the Cape Verde Islands and to Portugal's political past, the title "Youth on the March" being especially ironic.


When the film premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, many in the audience walked out, apparently frustrated by the film's long, static shots, long stretches of silence, and lack of narrative clarity. Roger Ebert reported that he did not go to see the film because the Time magazine critic Richard Corliss had warned him that his wife had gone and "walked out after an hour because the movie made her feel like rats were fighting in her skull.”[2] Other critics, however, have given the film serious consideration, comparing it to films by other directors notable for their slow and spare styes, including Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, and the team of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet.

In a New York Times review, Manohla Dargis called Colossal Youth one of the most "misunderstood" films at Cannes, remarking, "Beautifully photographed, this elliptical, sometime confounding, often mysterious and wholly beguiling mixture of fiction and nonfiction looks and sounds as if it were made on another planet. And, in some respects, it was."[3] In 2007, Slant magazine critic Fernando F. Croce wrote that it is "as a compassionate and unmistakably spiritual document . . . that Colossal Youth leaves its deepest marks . . . and an intimidating aesthetic experiment becomes directly, colossally affecting."[4] And in a 2008 review, critic David Balfour describes the film as "a truly remarkable work from a man of unique vision," adding "It will divide those see it, even those who stay with it. The sense of dislocated in time and place is unique. The effect of the film is cumulative."[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Colossal Youth". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 29, 2006). "Cannes #10: Guessing Games". Archived from the original on 2020-08-07. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  3. ^ Dargis, Manohla (August 3, 2007). "Life, Assembled One Room at a Time". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-06-05. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  4. ^ Croce, Fernando F. (July 30, 2007). "Review: Colossal Youth". Slant. Archived from the original on 2019-08-25. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  5. ^ Balfour, David (March 2008). "Colossal Youth". Vertigo magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-07-15. Retrieved November 14, 2020.