Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival


Romeo Castelluci brings the “totality of the arts” to LEFFEST ’21

Italian director and visual artist Romeo Castellucci is one of LEFFEST ’21’s featured creators.

Castellucci will be present to accompany To Reverse One's Eyes the special program curated for the festival by Piersandra Di Matteo, performing arts theoretician and dramaturg who has been collaborating with Castellucci for several years now.

The main focus of this program, which will unfold into four moments, will take place at Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (TNDMII) on November 15th (followed the next day by a final session at cinema Nimas), featuring presentations by Piersandra Di Matteo and Romeo Castellucci. On the night of the 15th, following the screening of one of his most emblematic works of recent years – the daring reinterpretation of Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera Orphée et Eurydice (2014) –  Castellucci will talk about his work with Pedro Penim, the new artistic director of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II.

In Castellucci’s theatre, the concept of a “totality of the arts” hints at the bodily unthought, an Outside of thought that the conventional approach to drama, content with a mere illustration of literary texts, tends to ignore. Sound, image, architecture, sculpture and painting – everything in this expanded notion of theater converges towards a pre-verbal affectivity of corporeal intensities. Hence the generalized scandal with which many of his works are received. “Theater is a carnal art”, insists Castellucci. Let us search, then, precisely there – in the flesh that precedes the written word – one of the many keys to interpretation for a work that is unashamedly avant-garde.

The retrospective of Castellucci’s opus is divided between two days of screening in two distinct locations. On November 15th, at Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Piersandra Di Matteo will present, at 3 pm, The Epic of Dust (1992-1999), a selection representative of Castellucci’s work in the 90’s, and, at 8 pm, Tragedia Endogonidia (2002-2004), a monumental cycle conceived by Socìetas Raffello Sanzio, searching for the concept of the tragic in today’s world. Finally, in the last session of the day, beginning at 9 pm, there will be a projection of Castellucci’s bold reinterpretation of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Orphée et Eurydice (2014), in which the myth of Orpheus is transposed into the clinical condition of a person in a comatose state. This screening will be followed by a conversation between Romeo Castellucci and Pedro Penim.

On November 16th, at Cinema Nimas, 3 pm, there will be a showing of The Act of Seeing (2006-2014), a selection of extracts from different productions, presented by the artist himself. This assemblage includes a series centered around the feminine figure called Hey Girl! (2006); Inferno (2008), part of a trilogy loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy; Dante; Sul Concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (2010); The Phenomenon Called I (2011) and Le Sacre du Printemps (2014), a choreography for 40 machines inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s timeless composition.

We hope this multidimensional journey through Romeo Castellucci’s prolific career serves as an introduction into the most challenging avant-garde theater made in Europe today.

To reverse one's eyes

Curated by Piersandra Di Matteo

15th November
Teatro Nacional D. Maria II

15h Program #1 The Epic of Dust (1992-1999), presented by Piersandra Di Matteo
18h Program #2 Tragedia Endogonidia (2002-2004), presented by Piersandra Di Matteo
21h Program #4 Orphée et Eurydice (2014), followed by a talk between Romeo Castellucci and Pedro Penim

Tickets: €6 (full price) / €5 (students)
Available at the box office and at

16th November
Medeia Nimas Cinema

15h Program #3 The act of seeing. A selection of extracts (2006-2014) – presented by Romeo Castellucci

Program #1 The Epic of Dust (1992-1999)          duration: 100 min
Amleto, la veemente esteriorità della morte di un mollusco (1992)
Orestea (una commedia organica?) (1995 > 2015)
Giulio Cesare (1997)
Genesi. From the Museum of Sleep (1999)

Romeo Castellucci’ s artist trajectories explored in the Nineties – brought together as the Epopea della Polvere / Epic of Dust – were an occasion to radically rethink the tradition of Western Drama. Denying any legitimacy to a theatre conceived as the illustration of a text, he engaged in a rigorous immersion into the great classics of Western theatre from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, discovering a theatre of the body. In Amleto, la veemente esteriorità della morte di un mollusco (1991), we meet a boy with the symptomology of an autistic child. Closed up inside a camp made of electric circuits and stuffed animals that have become simulacra of his family, he vacillates between being and non-being. Orestea (una commedia organica?) (1995) – restaged 20 years after the original – derails in the manner of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Humpty-Dumpty translated by Antonin Artaud during the psychiatric internment in Rodez. Aeschylus’ language passes into the body, becoming an organic substance. Giulio Cesare (1997) delves into the Empire of Rhetoric and the morphology of the monument, looking towards the origins of Western culture and its forms of politics, framing a “drama of the voice” between embodiment, simulation and dissimulation. Genesi. From the Museum of Sleep (1999) comes to grips with the first book of the Bible. Structured into three acts – At the beginning, Auschwitz, Abel and Cain –, Castellucci contemplates the creation through its most extreme opposite: Auschwitz. Bodies, mechanisms and figures trace out an itinerary in which each creature is condemned to dream itself and be dreamed, while evoking a form of suffering that reveals forms of compassion.

Program #2   Tragedia Endogonidia (2002-2004)          duration: 109 min
A.#02 AVIGNON (2002)
BN.#05 BERGEN (2003)
P.#06 PARIS (2003)
C.#11 CESENA (2004)

Tragedia Endogonidia is the colossal cycle conceived by the Socìetas Raffello Sanzio over a period of three years (2002-2004), producing 11 Episodes in 10 European cities (Cesena, Avignon, Berlin, Brussels, Bergen, Paris, Rome, Strasburg, London and Marseille). Envisioned as an organism in a perpetual state of flight, it is founded on an auto-generative idea that revolves around the city. The cycle’s dramatic structure retraces the exoskeleton of Greek Tragedy, probing into the tragic in today’s world. It is based on raw facts, with no possible catharsis. The hero’s solitude and his/her anonymity are explored through figures and acts unable to reach a proper ending. 
The Cycle are directed by videoartists Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti, encompassing 11 films which retrace the morphological life of the entire theatrical project. Here, we have proposed 4 Episode.

Program #3   The act of seeing. A selection of extracts (2006-2014)          duration: 102 min
Hey girl! (Festival d’Automne, Paris, 2006)
Inferno (Cour d’Honneur, Papal Palace, Avignon, 2008)
Sul Concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (Theater der Welt, Essen, 2010)
The Phenomenon called I (Tokyo Festival, Yumenoshima, 2011)
Le Sacre du Printemps (Ruhrtriennale, Duisburg, 2014)

This program is made up of extracts from different creations by Romeo Castellucci. Hey girl! (2006), has its pivots around the truth of the body of the actress Silvia Costa: gestures and images condense the exteriority of a state of consciousness between dream and wakefulness. Nominated as associated artist of the Avignon Festival 2008, Romeo Castellucci staged Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, a trilogy freely inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. The Cour d’Honneur of the Papal Palace hosted Inferno in which the artist, choosing to “be Dante”, takes upon himself the sense of confusion involved in finding oneself at the outset of a voyage through what it is to be human. In Sul Concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (2010), framed between an enormous Salvator Mundi by Antonello da Messina and the spectator, a hyperbolic amount of excrement is produced by an old and incontinent father, lovingly cared for by his son: degradation of the body is turned into a sublime reflection on mankind and transience. The Phenomenon Called I (2011) was conceived en plein air for the park of the artificial island Yumenoshima (Island of Dreams), made out of urban waste and found in the bay of Tokyo, in front of an audience of approximately 3,000 people, roughly six months following the disastrous tsunami that struck the country. Le Sacre du Printemps (2014) is a choreography for 40 machines conceived for the molecular dance of 30 tonnes of animal bone dust, industrially produced as agricultural fertiliser. The dust is nebulised into gaseous masses, embodyng the idea of dance closely related to the ostinatos and the dynamic accents of Igor Stravinskij’s music.

Program #4 Orphée et Eurydice (2014)           duration: 86 min
film realizzato da Myriam Hoyer
based on Christoph W. Gluck (Hector L. Berlioz’s version, 1859)
directed by Romeo Castellucci
production La Monnaie | De Munt 

The visual urgency that runs through Romeo Castellucci’s theater finds its own field of expression in the opera production as witnessed by the full screening of Orphée et Eurydice. The myth of Orpheus is translated into a reflection on the abysmal condition of coma, reliving the exceptionality of a device capable of ring-welding the music performed in the theater of La Monnaie and the room of the Inkendaal rehabilitation center where Els, a young woman suffering from Locked-in Syndrome, is hospitalized. Gluck’s mythology and music become mirrors in which human fragility is reflected recognizing to art “the duty to think about the human condition, even the most extreme” (RC).

Tickets on sale from October 15th
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