Fados: Director's Statement

I discovered fado in the films of Amalia Rodrigues. Her songs marked my post-war Madrid childhood in the same way that the songs of Imperio Argentina and the tangos of Carlos Gardel did. During these years of awakening, these sounds and images were recorded forever in our memory. For this reason, fado has never left me since.

I first visited Portugal at the end of the 1950_s, on my way to Lisbon. Portugal seemed to me to be a depressed country, with pleasant, sad people. On the radio of Salazar, you'd often hear Amalia Rodrigues' wonderful and unique voice. It was only later, during other trips there, and through my Portuguese friends and Spanish friends who'd worked in Portugal, that I discovered other fado singers such as Marceneiro and Carlos do Carmom to name only the most well-known, whose records and cassettes I listened to.

One day, I abandoned everything for an impossible love. I left, fleeing my country, and went to Portugal by car with the fleeting idea that I'd never return. It was a wonderful experience (unfortunately, I didn't keep any photos of it). During the trip, I bought fado cassettes and I listened to the incredible voices of the men and women who sang a sadness that was so close to mine.

When I was offered the chance to make a film about fado, I didn't hesitate. It would be like taking something that I had kept in a corner of my heart out of the box of memories. I dusted off my records and cassettes and before responding, I plunged back into the world of fado. Later, my producers would send me an enormous amount of sound and literary material. There was still a lot for me to discover.

For now, my frequent trips to Lisbon and my visits to different spots where fado reigns, has given me a profound knowledge of fado and, more importantly, has permitted me to meet exceptional artists, such as Carlos do Carmo, Mariza and Caman. Prodigious voices. And to discover Luclia do Carmo, Teresa de Noronha and many other great fado singers. It was equally the opportunity to discover another Portugal, a modern Portugal.

Aided in this research by my friend, Ivan Dias, an expert in the subject, we tried to reconcile a theme dear to us: fado's relationship with Brazil and Africa , from the
“modinhas,” to the “fado batido” (rhythmic Fado), with a desire to find songs and rhythms which, through these journeys, contributed to the musical enrichment of our countries.

Fados is my eighth film on music and my intention was to go beyond my precedent experiences by working with the musicians of a country and of a city, Lisbon, which I have loved for years.

-Carlos Saura