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’ · 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)
Vasco Viana
Sound Design
Rafael Cardoso
Sound Mixing
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 at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. His short films Arena (Palme d’Or at Cannes), Cerro Negro (International Film Festival Rotterdam) and Rafa (Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlinale) screened at over 100 festivals around the world and won numerous prizes. His feature film debut Mountain premiered in the International Critics’ Week at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. Another visit to Berlinale Shorts followed with High Cities of Bone in 2017.


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); Berlinale Shorts 2018 Russa

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018

Produced by

Terratreme Filmes

World Sales

Agência – Portuguese Short Film Agency