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From 2007 to 2011 I worked as a Skills Recognition and Validation Professional for an adult education process that was being implemented by Portugal’s New Opportunities Programme. The programme had had a significant social impact due to low levels of education among the Portuguese population ‘a million enrolled’ was the banner of the socialist party that ruled at the time. So I went to work at a New Opportunities centre with the goal of making a film. The office where I worked was in Vila Franca de Xira, a city located 30 km away from Lisbon, which had been heavily industrialised and was now on the final stretch of an deindustrialisation process that had begun in the 1980s. From my desk, I watched dozens of workers who lost their jobs during that period. That was when I met Joaquim. During my interviews and sessions with these people, I listened to men and women talk about their life trajectories and the conditions that determined their existence, as well as their difficulties. Like them, I was also inside this process: If, on the one hand, it was exhausting to be exposed to all this, on the other hand, it was engrossing.

For five years, I filmed my workplace, which resulted in my 2013 film VIDA ACTIVA. Afterwards, I had the desire to make other films, to give shape to the stories and impressions that I had written down during that period. From that archive, PROVAS, EXORCISMOS was born in 2015, which tells the story of a factory’s insolvency.

Combining various styles, NO TÁXI DO JACK (JACK’s RIDE) was my way of continuing this journey through the work history of an individual, their beliefs, and their disappointments. Joaquim Calçada, his Portuguese name, initially guides us through his memories. It is through his voice that we begin the journey, aboard his phantasmagoric taxi. This is not solely a geographical journey. It interweaves fragments of Portugal’s recent history.

Close to retirement, Joaquim is confronted with an economic crisis that forces the company where he works to re-structure itself and subsequently fire workers. This event unleashes a convergence of forces from different locations and times. Joaquim navigates and activates moments from life and time abroad, a repository of memory that invokes broader histories: on the one hand, the U.S. and its immigrants; on the other, a Portugal impoverished by decades of dictatorship and successive economic. NO TÁXI DO JACK is a closed road movie: instead of taking us down a straight line with different stops, we trace a concentric movement around Jack’s history.

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