Once Upon a Time...

There was a Nadagirl who went to New York City for the Streaming Media East 2000 Convention, June 12-15.  A galant Boston-based Frenchman named Jean-Francois Formela of Atlas Venture invited her after she was introduced to him via e-mail by a lovely Barcelona-based half-French/half-English lass named Abigail Boisot.  Nadagirl mixed and mingled with dot-communist glitterati like Marc Scarpa of Jumpcut, documentary director Mark Mitchell and Xceed producer Ned Davis, and the whole staff of IBM-Bahamas, among others from Brazil, Germany, Japan and even Cuba.

After a dream-fortifyingly net-ricious bite of the Big Apple, it was time to cross the Atlantic to conquer another kingdom: Paços de Brandao, Portugal.

June 16th, 6:30am: I'm met at the Lisbon airport by King Fernando Rocha (director of Numérica Multimédia and Aurastudio)  and his Knight Errant-Caballero Andante, Sound Engineer & Guitarist Nuno Monteiro. ( I photographed them days later in their natural habitat...It seemed too cruel to whip out the camera at such an ungodly hour.) Nuno drives us the THREE hours north to Paços, in the Oporto area. During the whole car ride, I'm thinking: "Who do I know who would drive three hours south to get me in the middle of the night, and then turn around and take me the three hours back?" I'm already deeply affected by the hospitality of these people, but will we be able to work together? (The answer is soon apparent.)

June 17th: More driving...to Bragança, forty kilometres from Spain, where we are attending the wedding of Alexander Couto and Alexandra Neves in the little valley town of Gimonde. Here we stand with the happy couple, and the dazzlingly beautiful woman at the left is Queen Paula Relvas, Fernando's wife. We eat a five-course dinner at 7pm, Macarena under a full moon until 1am, and then eat all over again. I am completely amazed at how much fun I'm having, and am overwhelmed that Fernando and Paula would include me in this family affair. (Check out this Brazilian cousin of Fernando: Lady Carol of Sao Paulo. Tudo bem!) I know no one, yet I fall into conversations mixed with English, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, and feel an understanding with these people like I've never felt before. Viva Portugal!

June 18th: We check out O Castelo do Bragança and its environs. I die, go to Heaven, and come back Portuguese! Good thing, too, because pre-production on my short (curtametragen), "Mini Driver Project" is about to begin!

June 19th-June 29th: Let's meet the royally wonderful Numérica/Aurastudio Team! Besides Nuno, King Fernando´s Round Table is comprised of Knights Toni Silva, Vitor Fereira, Ilidio Moreira, Jorge Fidalgo and Dame María do Carme. Director of Photography is Duque Jorge Santos (seen here with  Duquesa Carmen Mamblona, recently mandated by her heart to move from Madrid to Northern Portugal...).

Cast as Mini's friends are the hot new band FEED. I tried to keep the casting session professional by asking questions like, "What bands influence you?" (Parliament Funkadelic, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam was the consensus.), but DAMN! I was mostly looking around thinking, "Who's cuter?" Mario Leite (rhythm guitar), Tó Barbot (bass), Bruno Aires (drums), Paulo Teixeira (solo guitar), or Orlando Pona (lead vocals, trumpet, keyboards)? (Orlando seems to have the devil in him...) Okay, if you're under 25, write me back and cast your vote! And yes, girls, they speak English perfectly and have impeccable manners. Or, write to them yourselves!

In between scouting, casting, paperwork, etc. we managed to have plenty of time for family and fun. The way the Europeans balance their lives is truly enviable. Every Thursday, Fernando and Paula lunch with his family. That day these regal Rochas were in attendance: Brother Alberto, his daughter Marta, Sister Isabel, Fernando, Sr., Queen Mum Rosa, Fernando, Jr., Aunt Ligia, Paula Relvas, Aunt Iva. On another day, José Alberto and Sara (Marta's younger brother and sister) joined us. And look closer at the sisters Ligia, Rosa and Iva...They´re only missing Elizabeth! (See why I was motivated to do a royal theme this month?)

Okay, that was family...what was fun?

Walks in enchanted gardens...paella at Nuno's with his Aunt Regina...staying up past sunrise on Sao Joao and starting all over at sunset...Disco time!...dinner with Alberto...partying with Jorge & Carmen and seeing tremendous photos of Morocco...listening to a "groovy" bar band on the shores of the Atlantic...eating Pop Rocks and blowing bubbles...

June 29th: Our work completed, with great emotional difficulty, I returned to Lisbon for my flight home. My friend Megan Jones from Orad NY happened to be flying in, so I wanted to meet up with her before she went on to Madrid. We both gasped at the beauty of 'typical Lisbon', visited the sites (like the Elevador Santa Justa, designed by Eiffel), drank at the smallest bar in the free world, and were given a grand tour of the Bairro Alto by night by Diego Palacios, grandson of my favorite author, Carmen Laforet.

June 30th: We buy some art from German Mario Froliche in the Rua Augusta area and then Megan and I run to a quiet, green place in Lisbon, O Jardim Botanico, before she has to tear off to Madrid. Tránsito Local, you can't beat it. Then, I'm treated to one last party by a true prince of a friend, Eddy Quintela, his girlfriend Elena, and his boyhood friend Pedro Baltazar.

July 1st: I return home. The movie on the flight between NY and LA is "Return to Me", starring Minnie Driver. HA! I take it as a very good omen. I'll be back...yes, indeed. And, in the meantime? Intensive Portuguese classes for this "Doninha", a Nadarapariga!

Fade to July...


© 2000 Dawn Westlake