Sing to Me

Fados Running time 85 minutes Written by Ivan Dias and Carlos Saura Directed by Carlos Saura Carlos Saura’s Fados, from

Fados
Running time 85 minutes
Written by Ivan Dias and Carlos Saura
Directed by Carlos Saura

Carlos Saura’s Fados, from an original idea by Ivan Dias (in Portuguese with English subtitles), casts a wondrous spell as the third installment of the Spanish director’s musical trilogy, which also includes Flamenco (1995) and Tango (1998). A fado is sung by a woman, or a man, playing alone with eyes closed, accompanied by a couple of musicians on various types of guitars. Fados have been sung in Lisbon for 150 years, and though their roots are in Africa, the fado was actually born in the 19th century at the same time as flamenco, tango, jazz and the Greek rebetika, in the poor neighborhoods of big port cities. Still, the film begins and ends with fados that speak to the people of Lisbon, about their trials and tribulations.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of such fado singers as Amália Rodrigues, Mariza, Camané, Maria de Nazaré, Vicente da Camara, Carmo Rebelo de Andrade, Pedro Moutinho, Toni Garrido, Ricardo Ribeiro, Ricardo Rocha, Miguel Poveda, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque de Hollanda, Ana Sofia Varela, Lura and Lila Downs. Just listening, you feel their loneliness and despair, their passion and heartbreak, and, ultimately, their courage and resilience.

Fados is, sadly, the last film to be distributed by Dan Talbot’s New Yorker Films, which is being driven out of business after 44 years of distributing the films of such art-house giants as Jean-Luc Godard and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Many of us were kept abreast of the new currents of world cinema, and also many of the glories of the classical past, at Mr. Talbot’s New Yorker Theatre. In these dire times, we can take some consolation in the continuing existence and solvency of Mr. Talbot’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Thank you, Dan, for all your past contributions, and Godspeed for all your future endeavors.

asarris@observer.com

Sing to Me