Sara moved to London to find a job in graphic design, but she’s stuck in a restaurant kitchen. Today, after one more rejection, the reality of her life sinks in.
A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
> Your story deals with a woman who faces the hardships of living abroad. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
Personally, I’ve met a lot of people in similar situations, and in particular, there’s a friend of mine, a childhood friend, that also went from Portugal to London, with a lot of artistic ambitions, and ended up working as a waitress, so the main plot inspiration, we could say, comes from her own story. The flat and the drawings that were used in the short are also hers.
The film also deals with some of the elements that I felt throughout my own experience, when I was coming to the end of my studies and I had to decide if I was to stay there or to come back home – so definitely, there are a lot of personal anxieties to find in the film as well.
> Why do you think it’s so enthusing to go live in a different place?
I think it depends a lot on the particular situations, and where you live. Portugal had a huge economic crisis that peaked around 2012, and at that time, there was a big emigration wave. There’s also this element of phantasy in going abroad, of course, and I definitely wanted to explore that gap, that space between what you imagine happening and what actually happens.
The idea of leaving your home and living elsewhere and having the chance to start fresh is also very enticing, I think, but there are always difficulties that maybe you didn’t think of beforehand, or you may miss on things that you didn’t expect to. To live abroad is a kind of double-edged sword, in my opinion.
That’s also the reason why I chose “Swallows” as the title, you know, because they’re this migration bird, that I’ve seen everywhere, but for some reason, they also remind me of Portugal, and of home, so that’s also a dichotomy.
> At the end of the movie, her situation has not changed – and her choices are not clear. Do you think she will end up deciding to stay, or to go back?
I wanted to make a film about a dilemma, and not a solution, because, in the end, I think it doesn’t really matter what she does. I wanted to explore the way in which she stayed in her head throughout the whole film, consumed by her anxiety, and all these questions about her past, her future, etc. But I also wanted her to find some peace at being present where she is, all the while having to fight against these opposite pulls to go back and forward. I wanted people to understand this problem, while leaving her decisions open to the future.
Regarding her own future, at the point of the interview, Sofia was applying for funds to make more short movies, while working as an editor for a feature film.