Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin
The directorial debut of Manuela Viegas, Gloria is an adolescent rite-of-passage tale set against the backdrop of a rural landscape slowly disappearing in modern Portugal. The small border town of Vila de Santiago, once a booming trade center for illegal trafficking, is about to become a ghost town. A new motorway is to bypass the city, the railway station is being closed, and its stationmaster, Vincente, is preparing to retire. Many young people have moved out, leaving the children to be brought up by elderly neighbors, including a streetwise thirteen-year-old named Gloria. Gloria finds it hard to stay in one place very long; she likes to play on the hills and in between the ruins. A drizzly autumn has come on, and the smell of charred trees and shrubs (victims of a terrible forest fire) still fill the air. The young girl's life is suddenly changed by the arrival of Vincente's son, Mauro, who has just come out of prison and is ready to settle some accounts. Rumor has it that it was Mauro who burnt Vincente's house. As soon as he makes his appearance, Mauro begins to charge around the station on his motorbike, threatening his brother, while Gloria's friendship with Ivan is put to test on account of her attraction to Mauro. Director Viegas has been working as an editor since the late 1970's, which is evident in her work. At the heart of Gloria is a strong sense of time -- the seasons following one another, the community slowly dying. things happening that change the young lives irrevocably. Gloria was screened in competition at the 49th International Berlin Film Festival in 1999.