Berlinale: Programme

Film file

Berlinale Shorts

Altas Cidades de Ossadas

High Cities of Bone

Hohe Städte aus Totengebein

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Born in a slum on the edge of Lisbon, Karlon played a significantly influential role in Cape Verdean Creole rap. In this fictional film, he withdraws from the place that society assigned him to and disappears into the surrounding sugarcane fields. Director João Salaviza musters people together in order to try and convince Karlon to return to the settlement.
Salaviza refrains from lightening the darkness around Karlon, the protagonist is barely recognisable. He almost always occupies the lowest third of the frame, small in the background, out of focus or only shown from the rear. He doesn’t want to be seen, he wants out of this life. He threw away everything that connects him to it in order to stay entirely alone. He just doesn’t want.
Resistance against a system that does not leave room for those who do not wish to comply. Through the title of the film, taken from the book, “Cahiers d'un Retour au Pays Natal”, Salaviza incorporates Aimé Cesaire, founder of Négritude:
The movement which fights for the cultural sovereignty of the African, while conscious of the necessity of direct political action.

João Salaviza

Portugal 2017

Creole, Portuguese

19 min · Colour


Carlos Furtado Gomes (Karlon)
Xama Cabral (Xama)
Maria do Céu Magalhães (Maria)
Leonor Ferreira (Leonor)


João Salaviza
João Salaviza, Renée Nader Messora, Carlos Furtado Gomes (Karlon)
Director of Photography
Vasco Viana
Sound Design
Rafael Cardoso
Sound Mixer
Xavier Thieulin
João Matos, Leonor Noivo, Luísa Homem, Susana Nobre, Tiago Hespanha, Pedro Pinho


João Salaviza

Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1984, he studied at the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema in Lisbon and the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. His short films Arena (Palme d'Or in Cannes), Cerro Negro (International Film Festival Rotterdam) and Rafa, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2012, have screened at over 100 festivals worldwide and have won numerous prizes. In 2012 the Centre Pompidou in Paris dedicated a retrospective programme to his work. His feature film debut Mountain premiered in the International Critics' Week at the Venice Film Festival.


2009 Arena; short film 2011 Strokkur; short Film 2012 Cerro Negro; short film · Rafa; Berlinale Shorts 2015 Montanha (Mountain) 2017 Altas Cidades de Ossadas (High Cities of Bone)

Produced by

Terratreme Filmes
Lissabon, Portugal
+351 21 2415754

World sales

Agência - Portuguese Short Film Agency
Vila do Conde, Portugal
+35 125 2646683