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The Great Kilapy

O Grande Kilapy

Angolan filmmaker Zézé Gamboa offers a quirky political observation of the lives and passions of flawed characters set in Luanda and Lisbon.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

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  • Director Zézé Gamboa
  • Producer Fernando Vendrell
  • Screenwriter Luís Carlos Patraquim, Luís Alvarães
  • With Lázaro Ramos, João Lagarto, Pedro Hossi
  • Portugal-Brazil-Angola 2012
  • 102 mins
  • Sales David & Golias

Based on the figure of the late João Fraga, Joãozinho is an Angolan student studying engineering at the Institute of Technology in Lisbon. It’s the swinging sixties, and Angola is under Portuguese colonial rule. Salazar’s brutal secret service is everywhere on the lookout for communists and agitators. João is apolitical, but attracts their attention when he takes Carmo – the daughter of one of Salazar’s ministers – as his lover. His studies forgotten, he starts living a bohemian life. He is constantly watched by PIDE, and one more drunken scuffle lands him in jail, before deportation back to Angola. On his return his father finds him a job in a tax office, where he fleeces the treasury and squanders the money on fast cars, champagne and backing a local football team. He is arrested, but the Lisbon government of Salazar unexpectedly falls, and João is released as a political prisoner... Emmy-nominated Brazilian actor Lázaro Ramos is remarkable in the lead.
Keith Shiri

Director statement

Portugal, whose late arrival to industrialisation had resulted in a form of incipient capitalism with rural characteristics, brought this same attitude to its provinces (while other powers were already developing neo-colonial links with their ex-colonies).Coinciding with the beginning of the Anti-Colonial War on the several different fronts of the future independent countries, Portugal started to invest intensively in public works and different infrastructures in an attempt to modernise these overseas provinces, which results in a curious situation in which the colonial cities were often more modern and developed than Lisbon itself. In the specific case of Angola, there are other particular characteristics of the development of the social fabric, with it being common for white Portuguese citizens to live in the poor neighbourhoods and there was a local middle class made up of blacks and mulattoes who lived in the centre of town in the most noble areas and held positions of importance in the civil service, even occasionally being granted the position of Secretaries of State in the Provincial Government. It is in the context of these particular social characteristics and in this time of abundance that there appears the fait divers that inspired me to make this film. The story takes place precisely in the period between 1965 and 1974, and relates the adventures of a petty-crook who draws up a master plan to manage to swindle money from the Colonial Tax and Revenue Services. The narrating of these adventures permits a gaze on a recent period of Portuguese/Angolan history, in which I intend to show the glamour of the rich sixties, the irreverence of young people at that time and the greatnesses and frailties of a regime in utter decline. This is a period that is somewhat mythical nowadays and that has never been dealt with in the cinema of these two countries, either out of forgetfulness or other unfathomable reasons on the one hand (Portugal), or due to the several different trials of a recently-born country in which it is only now that there is the birth of what we may call fictional cinema, as previously there had mainly been documentary films.
Zézé Gamboa

Director biography

Born in Luanda in 1955, he worked for Angolan television between 1974 and 1980, directing information programmes and news broadcasts. In 1984 he qualified as a sound engineer in Paris, and worked as such on numerous international productions before, in 1989, starting working as a documentary director, with Mopiopio and Dissidence receiving some international recognition. In 1992, as the peace process in Angola got underway, he attempted to develop a first feature, but the renewed eruption of civil war and associated logistical difficulties meant that The Hero did not emerge until over ten years later. When it did, it won a major Jury Prize at Sundance in 2005. The Great Kilapy is his second feature.


1991 Mopiopio [doc]
1998 Dissidencia (Dissidence) [doc]
2001 Burned by Blue [doc s]
2002 O desassossego de pessoa [doc s]
2004 O Herói (The Hero)
2009 Bom Dia, África [s]
2012 O Grande Kilapy (The Great Kilapy)

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