February 15, 2017 / 10:04 PM / in 10 months

Unemployment in Portuguese movie 'Colo' is one reason for populism, director says

BERLIN (Reuters) - The unemployment portrayed in a movie competing at the Berlin Film Festival is a factor behind growing support for populists such as U.S. President Donald Trump and French right-winger Marine Le Pen, the film’s director said.

Director Teresa Villaverde attends a news conference to promote the movie 'Colo' at the 67th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

“Colo” shows a Portuguese family’s struggle to make ends meet while the father is unemployed and the mother is exhausted from working long hours in a country still recovering from an economic depression earlier this decade.

Unable to pay their bills, the family’s electricity gets cut off and they resort to using candles and charging their mobile phones at a neighbor’s apartment. The father eats food he finds in the rubbish and their daughter dodges fares as she does not have money for the school bus.

While the characters in the film do not show their political views, director Teresa Villaverde said it was likely that people in such situations could swerve to the hard right.

“With unemployment and everything like that, people get lost and then comes someone like Donald Trump or, in Europe, ... these new right-wing people like Marine Le Pen,” Villaverde said after the film’s premiere on Wednesday.

“There are many countries that have had a long democratic tradition and to our surprise we see the return of right-wing parties across Europe - we thought we’d never see this again,” she said.

The film seeks to portray a family crisis and loneliness by showing how people who live together in a small apartment still do not really know each other and how existing problems are exacerbated by their lack of money, Villaverde said.

The mother loses her evening job and her relationship with her husband breaks down as she wonders whether he will ever get work. They end up going to live with different relatives while their daughter moves into a fisherman’s hut by the sea.

“Colo” is one of 18 films in competition at the festival that runs until Feb. 19.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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