New film to highlight Ria Formosa islanders’ struggle to save their homes

Filming is due to start tomorrow on an independent Portuguese film that promises to bring the fight by Ria Formosa islanders to save their heritage and homes into sharp focus.

‘Hei-de Morrer Onde Nasci’ (I have to die where I was born) is the brainchild of young filmmaker Miguel Munhá who has raised almost all the money he needs via crowdfunding.

As of today, his PPL campaign page was only €21 short of its objective.

Talking to arts website COM, Miguel explained that the film will be a commemoration to the islands and their unique culture.

A “fictional” account of two brothers with very separate dreams, he explains the story reflects on the soul of a determined place, in this case, a combination of Culatra, Hangares and Farol – the very communities under threat from government-backed bulldozers intent on demolishing 800 homes.

“The islands are going through a very difficult moment,” he told COM. “I wanted to help the best way I know: in this case by making a film.”

“A number of houses and communities are under threat. Despite the fact they are ‘illegal’, they were built a long time ago. Some have even come to pay rates, but even so they (the government) wants to destroy them.

“This is a culture that you cannot find anywhere else.

”The islands are special, for their landscapes and their people: for the unique sunset, accent, fishermen, smiles and gentle way of life.

“I am going to do everything I can to make sure they are not destroyed from one moment to the next in a form that has not been properly considered.

“There should be exhaustive dialogue with the people. There needs to be understanding, and there need to be lots of changes beforehand.

“There are many ‘illegalities’ far worse than this one,” he adds.

“They (the government) should think with their hearts and minds before going ahead with inhuman destruction.”

Miguel’s voice is simply another among thousands speaking out against the government’s insistence that 800 islanders’ homes must be demolished this year in the name of environmental sustainability.

Intriguingly, some of the ‘actors’ in ‘Hei-de Morrer Onde Nasci’ are prime-movers in the campaign that has managed, this far, to keep the bulldozers at bay.

Last week, a solidarity concert designed to bring the campaign to holidaymakers played out in Olhão’s Jardim de Pescadores, attracting many hundreds – and tomorrow the first round of filming on ‘Hei-de Nascer Onde Nasci’ will begin.

Small steps, perhaps, but nonetheless all focused on saving a unique community’s way of life.

For more information on the SOS Ria Formosa campaign page, and Miguel Munhá’s film, see Facebook.

Yesterday, Munhá was appealing for help with a support boat, to follow filming, that could take up to seven people, between July 30 and August 1.

[email protected]