Drama - Development 2019

If a man’s quality is measured by his deeds, then Aristides was the greatest of men.

    • Year of production
    • 2019
    • Genres
    • Drama, Historical, True Story
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 5 - 10 M$
    • Writer(s)
    • Alice DE SOUSA
    • Producer(s)
    • Alice DE SOUSA (Galleon Films Ltd.)
    • Synopsis
      A film script by Alice de Sousa
      (Inspired by true events)
      ‘I would rather stand with God against men, than with men against God’. – Aristides de Sousa Mendes
      A mysterious looking woman sits, immobile, in a Lisbon café staring into emptiness. She attracts the attention of a bar tender, who engages her in conversation; which at first is awkward but will eventually flow like water from a fountain. The woman has been visiting a man who is dying a penniless outcast at the nearby pauper’s hospital. She proceeds in telling the remarkable story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. It begins in a war-torn Europe, and in Bordeaux in May 1940. As the Nazis invade France, thousands of desperate refugees surround the Portuguese Consulate hoping to obtain transit visas. The Portuguese Consul, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, pleads with his government for the authority to grant visas. The official reply is a categorical – ‘no visas’. As soldiers surround the Consulate, Aristides orders the doors to be open, thus provides diplomatic sanctuary to many desperate people. Deeply anxious and torn between obeying official orders or the call of his conscience, he becomes ill and bed ridden. When he emerges three days later, his hair has turned completely white. On the fourth day, 16th June 1940, faced with an ever-increasing crowd, Aristides orders an assembly-line to be created and with his sons, secretary and a Rabbi proceeds to grant thousands of visas. On the 19th June the Germans bomb Bordeaux and the mass of terrified refugees flee to the South. Aristides follows them: in Toulouse he orders the vice-Consul to issue more visas and at the border in Bayonne he continues to stamp more documents. Meanwhile, the British Embassy denounces his irregular actions to the Portuguese Fascist government which sends officials to stop him. Undeterred, Aristides makes his way to Biarritz and at the small border point near Hendaye, he escorts refugees across the Spanish border and to safety. In those last hours, he places his signature and official stamp on numerous passports, identities cards, and for those who have no documents even on pieces of newspaper, stating that the bearer had permission to enter Portugal.
      On the 23rd June, Aristides is finally apprehended and unceremoniously returned to his homeland; where he is to face a disciplinary process, resulting in his removal from diplomatic office and in political and social disgrace. For the next fifteen years, he tries unsuccessfully to clear his name. Prevented from returning to consular duties and from practicing as a barrister, he is systematically driven into poverty and ignominy.
      The woman tells the bar tender that Aristides died earlier that day, on the 3rd April 1954, a ruined outcast with nobody by his side.
    • Partners & financing
    • We are actively looking for international partners and financiers to realise this feature film project.