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At an Uncertain Time A Uma Hora Incerta

A film by Carlos Saboga with Joana Ribeiro, Paulo Pires, Judith Davis, Grégorie Leprince-Ringuet

1942, Portugal. In a country ruled by dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, two French refugees, Boris and Laura, are arrested. Inspector Vargas is instantly attracted to the young woman and decides to hide both refugees in his house, an empty hotel where he lives with his daughter Ilda and his gravely ill wife. Ilda then discovers the presence of the refugees and, consumed by jealousy, she will try to make them disappear at any cost…

2015 | Portugal | M/12 | Period drama | Feature film

Festivals and awards

Viennale - Vienna International Film Festival

Official Selection

Cast and crew


Joana Ribeiro
Paulo Pires
Judith Davis
Grégorie Leprince-Ringuet
Filipa Areosa
Pedro Lima
Joana de Verona
João Paulo Santos (Kid)
Filipe Crawford
Ana Padrão

Script and Direction: Carlos Saboga
Cinematographer: Mário Barroso
Art Direction: Zé Branco
Music: Alain Jomy
Assistant Director: José Maria Vaz da Silva
Editing: Monique Dartonne
Produced by Paulo Branco

A Leopardo Filmes production
With the support of Câmara Municipal da Mealhada, RTP and ICA

Director's biography

Born in Portugal in 1936, Carlos Saboga has worked as a screenwriter and translator as well as journalist and assistant director.

International critical acclaim for his work began in the 1970s. In 1984, he wrote the screenplay for “O Lugar do Morto” by António-Pedro Vasconcelos. In 1999 he collaborated again with Vasconcelos in “Jaime”, winner of the Special Prize of the Jury in the San Sebastian International Film Festival and of the “Cannes Junior” award at the Cannes Film Festival. The miniseries “Les Filles du Maître de Chai”, directed by François Luciani in 1997, received the Grand Prix du Sénat for best French series and seven nominations for the “7 d’Or”. In 2004 and 2007 he collaborated with Mário Barroso in “O Milagre Segundo Salomé” and “Um Amor de Perdição”. These two films were selected for several of the biggest film festivals in the world, including San Sebastian International Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival.

In 2010, Saboga adapted Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco for the screenplay of “Mysteries of Lisbon”, Raul Ruiz’ last film. The 4h30 long saga was applauded by critics and public alike and was selected for dozens of film festivals around the world, including the Toronto Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the São Paulo International Film Festival. It won several international awards, including the Prix Louis-Delluc, the Best Directing Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and the Critics Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival. Two years later, Saboga wrote “Lines of Wellington”, directed by Valeria Sarmiento, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. That same year, at 76, he directed his first feature, “Photo”. Presented at the Official Selection of the Rome Film Festival, the film was commercially released in both Portugal and France.


“At An Uncertain Time” – 2015
“Photo” – 2012

“At An Uncertain Time” by Carlos Saboga – 2015
“Photo” by Carlos Saboga – 2012
“Lines of Wellington” by Valeria Sarmiento – 2012
“Mysteries of Lisbon” by Raúl Ruiz – 2010
“Um Amor de Perdição” by Mário Barroso – 2007
“O Milagre Segundo Salomé” by Mário Barroso – 2004
“Jaime” by António-Pedro Vasconcelos – 1999
“Les filles du maître de chai” by François Luciani – 1997
“Le trajet de la foudre” by Jacques Bourton – 1994
“Le fils d'un autre” by Michel Lang – 1992
“Un ballon dans la tête” by Michaëla Watteaux – 1992
“Adeus Princesa” by Jorge Paixão da Costa – 1992
“Aqui D'El Rei!” by António-Pedro Vasconcelos – 1992
“Retrato de Família” by Luís Galvão Teles – 1991
“Matar Saudades” by Fernando Lopes – 1988
“O Lugar do Morto” by António-Pedro Vasconcelos – 1984

Intentions note

The background is the Second World War, as seen from a country which remains distant from it – Portugal. Subjected to a ruthless dictatorship, the country paradoxically becomes a refuge and a space of freedom for thousands of people who, otherwise, would have lost that freedom as well as their lives.

Most of the action takes place in a closed down hotel, in a closed-doors setting which is similar to that of the country under the dictatorship – isolated from the rest of the world and from history unfolding.

So it is a unique and crepuscular scenery, made of long dark deserted corridors, closed doors, dimly lit rooms, and filled with ghostlike, sheets-covered furniture. The paper ribbons put on the windows in prevention of hypothetical shrapnels filtrate the outside light, and contribute to creating an oppressive atmosphere, which is reminiscent of an aquarium – as accentuated by the many water photographs hung on the hotel walls (sea, rivers, lakes, waterfalls). Inside, the characters seem to be drifting in mid-water, under cover of desires exacerbated by imprisonment.

It is a half-lit universe where only outside noises can carry sporadic echoes of urban life, and the clamor of the war still happening somewhere else comes through the radio and the nearby film theatre’s newsreels’ soundtrack.

Carlos Saboga

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