Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

Balaou 2007

Directed by Gonçalo Tocha

A grieving filmmaker takes to the sea and finds quiet transcendence in travel and the elemental allure of the ocean. This strangely calming film is a true original.

Portugal In English, French and Portuguese with English subtitles
77 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Screenplay, Photography, Editor


Dídio Pestana


Gonçalo Tocha
Hubert Gidon (Beru)
Florence Beaufrère


Vancouver 2007


A personal documentary free of psychology, this strangely calming film has few obvious precedents. Reeling from the death of his mother, young Portuguese filmmaker Gonçalo Tocha is invited by an older French couple to join them on their yacht sailing from the Azores to Lisbon. The first half of his documentary is haunted by the irrevocable absence of the dead. We meet his family, who talk lucidly about the mother and their shock and anger at her loss. The second half of the film is a diary of an uncomfortable week on heavy seas, vivid with detail of life on board, and shot through with the filmmaker’s unstated quest to go with the flow and in so doing reconnect with life in the present tense. Balaou (pronounced bala-oo) finds quiet transcendence in travel, movement and the elemental allure of the ocean, expressing an expanding sense of spiritual awareness through the orchestration of image and beautifully crafted soundtrack. — BG