Keimena #10: Rabo de Peixe (Fish Tail)
by Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel

Monday February 20, 2017, 24:00 on ERT2
Rabo de Peixe (Fish Tail), 2015, Portugal, 103 min.
Directors: Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel

Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel’s film Rabo de Peixe portrays an island within an island.” Rabo de Peixe is a fishing village, located on the island of São Miguel, which hosts the largest community of traditional fisheries in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The re-edit of their 2003 film combines ethnographic observation and sociological investigation with a diaristic style and a nostalgic tone to portray the male members of two generations of fishermen from Rabo de Peixe and their daily lives, ambitions, and struggles. In doing so, they offer a unique account of the present-day condition of traditional fishing and its context, challenges, and threats.

Narrated by the voiceover of the two filmmakers, who merge personal emotions with sociological analysis and travelogue impressions, Rabo de Peixe revolves entirely around two masculine spheres. Pinto and Leonel’s life as a couple and the lives of the fishermen, observed both as a collective and as individuals, co-exist harmoniously in parallel registers. The very basic emotions that constitute human relations—love, care, worry, joy, and grief—unfold across the two realms.

The film’s realistic and attentive depiction of persons, places, and situations is intercut with moments of underwater reverie. Portraying the environment and life forms that exist below the sea’s surface introduces a radically different sense of time to the overall duration of the film. These are moments of abstract beauty and lyricism which expand the film’s gaze towards a deeply personal and poetic approach to documentary-making.

—Filipa Ramos, writer and editor

Posted in Public TV on 02.20.2017