TERRA DE NINGUÉM / NO MAN'S LAND / TIERRA DE NADIA / TERRA NULLIUS, CONFESSIONS D'UN MERCENAIRE
HD video, 16:9, color, stereo sound, 72 min., Portugal
Production: O Som e a Fúria
Support: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Carpe Diem, Bikini, Óbvio Som, Galeria Miguel Nabinho
Distribution: Shellac Sud, O Som e a Furia, Abordar Casa de Peliculas, Zon Lusomundo, MUBI
Non-Commercial Rights: Public Information Library, Centre George Pompidou, French Library Network
Theatrical release: Spain, Portugal, France
DVD Edition: Shellac Sud DVD, Terra Nullius: Confessions d'un mercenaire
DVD Edition: Alambique DVD, Terra de Ninguém
Video Installation Edition: Fundação Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea – collection
A mercenary sits in silence on a chair placed in an abandoned palace in Lisbon, as if posing for a portrait. Facing the camera, he begins narrating and performing his own history, constructing a record which slowly reveals in its turns of phrase and mismatched events a series of doubts and contradictions. The camera watches, relentlessly. Paulo narrates his involvement as a hired killer for special military forces during the Portuguese colonial war, the part he played in the GAL – Antiterrorist Liberation Group, a death squad illegally established by the Spanish government to annihilate high officials of ETA, and his work as a mercenary for the CIA in El Salvador. Rather than being interested in affirming the veracity of the historical record or in proving an official narrative, No Man’s Land dwells in the present moment of witnessing, the space inhabited by the performance of a memory. Refusing to linger on a static moral duality, throughout the film accuser and accused are frequently asked to change positions – at a certain point, after describing a series of crimes he committed, responding to a question by the director Paulo replies with one of his own 'How much is worth the life of a man? A man like me or men like them?' As the film’s own processes of making are slowly revealed, No Man’s Land creates a set or a stage where information or document are peripheral to the question of how one plays out and affirms as history his own personal truth.
Paulo offers sublime portrayals of the cruelties and paradoxes of power and of the revolutions that brought it down, only to erect new bureaucracies, new cruelties and paradoxes. His work as a mercenary is in the fringe of these two worlds.