Dreaming of great adventures and of standing up for his homeland, a young Portuguese man enlists in the army during World War I and is sent to the front line in Mozambique, Africa. Left behind by his platoon, he sets out on a grueling trek across the mystic Makua native land, walking for over a thousand kilometers, in search of his dream.
Festivals and awards
IFFR – International Film Festival Rotterdam
Official Selection - Big Screen Competition
Luxembourg City Film Festival
Gröningen Film Festival (Netherland)
«Premiering at the 2020 Rotterdam film festival, João Nuno Pinto’s MOSQUITO is an provocative, if derivative, odyssey into the heart of colonial darkness.»
Jorge Mourinha, The Flickering Wall
«João Nuno Pinto's Portuguese World-War-One drama tackles Portugal's colonial shady past in Africa.»
Ard Vijn, Screen Anarchy
«Rotterdam’s opening film is a fever dream account of a young Portuguese soldier’s experiences in 1917 Mozambique.»
«Pinto crafts a stark depiction of the morally grey, crafting a character that demonstrates every facet of the human condition; he’s flawed and easily led, yet also masterfully empathetic.»
Nathanial Eker, UK Film Review
Cast and crew
João Nunes Monteiro
Manuel João Vieira
with the special participation of
Ana Magaia and Camané
Directed by João Nuno Pinto
Written by Fernanda Polacow and Gonçalo Waddington
Original ideia by João Nuno Pinto
Cinematography - Adolpho Veloso
Art direction - Nuno Gabriel Mello
Film editing - Gustavo Giani
Music by Justin Melland
Sound - Gita Cerveira, Tiago Raposinho, Matthieu Deniau
Costume design - Lucha D`Orey
Makeup - Nuno Miguel Esteves
Casting - Ricardo Moura
Produced by Paulo Branco
Co-producers - Ana Pinhão Moura and Mario Peixoto
Executive producers - Ana Pinhão Moura and Enrico Saraiva
A Leopardo Filmes (Portugal) production
In coproduction with
Alfama Films Production (France)
APM Produções (Portugal)
Delicatessen Films (Brazil)
Mapiko Filmes (Mozambique)
With the financial support of
ICA Instituto Cinema e Audiovisual
RTP Rádio e Televisão de Portugal
L’Aide Aux Cinemas du Monde
CNC Centre National du Cinéma et de l'Image Animée - Institut Francais
L’aide à la Coproduction D’œuvres Cinématographiques Franco-Portugaises
Creative Europe Programme Media Of The European Union
and the support of
INAC Instituto Nacional Audiovisual e Cinema
International sales and festivals: Alfama Films
João Nuno Pinto is a Portuguese director, born in 1969 at Lourenço Marques, Mozambique. He moved to Portugal at the age of 5, shortly after the independence of the former Portuguese colony. In his latest years he has lived in Lisbon and São Paulo.
With a consolidated international career in advertising, in 2010 João Nuno Pinto premiered America, his first feature, an ironic look at contemporary Portugal through the eyes of illegal immigrants. The film was acclaimed in Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. It was selected and awarded by several film festivals around the world.
Mosquito, his latest film, co-written by his wife, the screenwriter Fernanda Polacow, and Gonçalo Waddington, is inspired by João Nuno Pinto’s grandfather's story in Africa during World War I and took almost 7 years to prepare.
Don’t Swim (short film, 2015)
Skype Me (short film, 2008)
"Reality is not in leaving or arriving: it comes to us halfway through the journey."
(Guimarães Rosa, Brazilian writer)
In 1917, aged 17, my grandfather landed in Mozambique along with the 4th Portuguese Expeditionary Company, in order to defend the Portuguese ex-colony against the German threat. Like so many other European soldiers in Africa during World War I, they had to walk hundreds of kilometers every day, facing hard deprivations, diseases, hunger and thirst. The only difference is that he did it all by himself, completely alone, looking for the war and for his dreams of glory. Although Mosquito is inspired by my grandfather’s journey in Africa, no one really knows what he went through during his long and solitary journey. This is where fiction and the meaning I want to convey the narrative comes in.
The way we Europeans and others still deal with African issues today reflects our colonial past and the long years of indoctrination of a certain paternalistic ideal about Africa. Mosquito uses a history of the past to confront us with choices of the present. Through the story of young Zacarias we are confronted with the horror of the war, and the subjugation of African people by the Europeans, through colonial domination. The film gives us a little more insight into a forgotten piece of our history, World War I in Africa, forcing us to reflect on a much longer period, when it was our right to subjugate and “civilize” other people who we conveniently considered to be inferior.
Private Zacarias’ lonely journey searching for his platoon is the backbone of the story. Through its clear references to classicalGreek narrative, Mosquito navigates within the genre of an epic film, which makes it universal in its dialectic. Yet, it is not merely concerned with using the genre's classical codes, but also a language and a narrative approach that breaks away from conventions, meeting a more authorial universe. In a way, the film's unique approach dissociates it from a classical form and embraces a more raw and contemporary narrative, putting us closer to the (less and less) innocent look of the young soldier.
The film shows a kind of fluctuation between reality and fantasy, past and present, the fabrication and the everyday. The situations may seem fantastic but they are real. The hallucinations may seem real but they are built by a troubled mind. And its remembrances appear like scattered fragments of the memory. The idea of the reality versus the imaginary is important because of its closeness with the creation of history and war itself. That is part of Mosquito’s narrative: exploring the imaginary space left blurred by the historical amnesia.