Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Spell Reel

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The first image is in black and white, upside down and projected into a black box that then becomes the frame. It now hovers like a time capsule near a man’s face. He looks down, listening in on a female guerrilla fighter and translating her words from Fulani. Within the capsule, money is counted and paid out as a new currency, the numbers of the years run backwards in the black box. A 16-mm film glides through the man's hands and is transferred to a laptop screen frame by frame.
Filipa César's Spell Reel is the result of a multifaceted research and digitisation project that she initiated in 2011 with Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes. Having studied film in Cuba, the two began using the camera to observe the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau (1963–74). After the decaying visual and audio material was digitised in Berlin, the filmmakers travelled with a mobile cinema to the places where the footage had originally been shot and showed it to audiences for the first time, adding their own commentary. They then moved on, also returning to Berlin. Spell Reel watches an archive at work to produce the present.

Filipa César

Germany / Portugal / France / Guinea-Bissau 2017

Portuguese, Fula, Guinea-Bissau Creole, English, French

Documentary form
96’ · Colour


Filipa César
Sana na N'Hada
Jenny Lou Ziegel
Filipa César
Sound Design
Didio Pestana
Nikolas Mühe
Production Design
Olivier Marboeuf
Filipa César, Oliver Marboeuf, Spectre, Maria João Mayer, Filmes do Tejo II


Filipa César

Filipa César, born in 1975 in Porto, Portugal, is an artist and filmmaker interested in the fictional aspects of the documentary and the politics and poetics inherent to moving image. Since 2011, César has been looking into the imaginaries of Guinea-Bissau’s Liberation Movement and its cognitive potencies, developing that research into the ongoing collective project Luta ca caba inda (the struggle is not over yet). Her work is widely shown in solo and group exhibitions, biennials, and festivals. Her short films Cuba and Transmission from the Liberated Zones were featured in Forum Expanded in 2013 and 2016, and in 2017 César premiered her feature-length essay film Spell Reel at the Berlinale Forum. She lives and works in Berlin.


2007 Rapport; 16 min. · Rapport; 16 min. · Allee der Kosmonauten; 8 min. · Allee der Kosmonauten; 8 min. 2008 Le passeur; 34 min. · Le passeur; 34 min. 2009 The Four Chambered Heart; 29 min. · The Four Chambered Heart; 29 min. 2010 Insert; 10 min. · Insert; 10 min. · Memograma; 40 min. · Memograma; 40 min. · Porto, 1975; 10 min. · Porto, 1975; 10 min. 2011 The Embassy; 7 min. · The Embassy; 7 min. 2012 Cuba; 10 min., Forum Expanded 2013 · Cuba; 10 min., Forum Expanded 2013 · Cacheu; 10 min. · Cacheu; 10 min. 2013 Conakry; 10 min. · Conakry; 10 min. 2014 Mined Soil; 32 min. · Mined Soil; 32 min. 2015 Transmission from the Liberated Zones; 30 min., Forum Expanded 2016 · Transmission from the Liberated Zones; 30 min., Forum Expanded 2016 2017 Spell Reel · Spell Reel; 96 min., Forum 2017 2020 Quantum Creole; 40 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020

Produced by

Filipa César

Spectre Productions

Filmes do Tejo II

World Sales

Spectre Productions