5 Brazilian documentary filmmakers and their work

5 Brazilian documentary filmmakers and their work

1. Eduardo Coutinho

Eduardo de Oliveira Coutinho (1933 – 2014) was a Brazilian journalist, filmmaker and documentary filmmaker. Paulistano, during his youth joined the University of São Paulo (USP) to study law, however, he did not complete his degree. His first contact with cinema took place in 1954, when he joined the Cinema Seminar at the São Paulo Art Museum Assis Chateaubriand (Masp / SP). Later, he won a scholarship at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (Idhec), in Paris, where he completed several courses in direction and editing and produced his first documentaries.

The main mark of Coutinho’s work is to privilege the stories of ordinary people. In addition, he took journalism to the screens through interviews to record the routine – yet reflexive – reports of his protagonists, approaching them, a common practice of documentary filmmakers.

In 1984, he released what was to be recognized as his masterpiece, the film-report “Cabra Marcado para Morrer”. This is the life story of João Pedro Teixeira, a peasant and Paraiban leader, who was murdered in 1962. The work was interrupted during the process due to the military coup (part of the team was arrested on charges of communism) thus, they were resumed after seventeen years.

In addition, other outstanding productions of his career are: “Jogo de Cena”, “As Canções”, “Santo Forte”, “Edifício Master” and “Peões”.

2. Petra Costa

Ana Petra Costa was born in 1983 in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) and is a filmmaker and member of the Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences, an honorary professional organization dedicated to the development of the art and science of cinema, since 2018. As a teenager, she started to become interested by theater, and at the age of seventeen he entered the University of São Paulo (USP) to study Performing Arts. Without finishing the course, he changed it to Anthropology at Columbia University, in New York (United States). When he returned to his native country in 2007, he began to dedicate himself entirely to cinema. His first successful feature film is “Elena”, a story about his older sister’s trip to New York, who committed suicide when Costa was just seven years old.

Other award-winning documentaries are: “Olmo ea Gaivota”, “Nobody’s Watching”, “Babenco, Someone Must Hear the Heart and Say: Stopped”. And above all, “Democracy in Vertigo”, which is the director’s own interpretation of the process of former President Dilma Rousseff and who ran for Oscar 2020 in the category of best documentary.

3. Cao Guimarães

Claudio Gontijo Guimarães is a filmmaker and visual artist, born in 1965 in Belo Horizonte, where he currently lives and works. He started his studies in Philosophy at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and before finishing his degree, he transferred to the Journalism course at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC / MG), where he studied until 1986 He started his artistic work following photography in 1980 and, since then, has produced aesthetic experiments on video.

It is innovative in the role of hybridizing visual arts and reporting. Without resorting to scripts, he guides his creative process mainly by suggestions and propositions. Therefore, when making space available for the unforeseen in his works, he relies on the final montage to reconstruct, with editing and soundtrack, realities that challenge the perception of viewers through cinematographic time.

Guimarães’ work is widely awarded in video and film festivals, both national and international. Among their main documentaries, they are: “Alma do Osso”, “Ex-isto”, “O Homem das Multidões” and “Rua de Mão Dois” – the subjects addressed by them range from the historical resumption of the hermit man to an adaptation of novel “Catatau” by Paulo Leminski.

4. Joel Zito Araújo

Joel Zito Araújo (born in 1954 and from Minas Gerais) is a director, writer, screenwriter and communicologist. He has a postgraduate degree in Communication Sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP) and a postdoctoral degree in Radio and TV at the University of Texas, Austin (United States).

A pioneer in the so-called black cinema, both in fiction and in the documentary industry, the main theme of his works is racism and social disparities between blacks and whites in Brazil. In addition, the theme is present in his academic research, having studied how the presence of Afro-descendants in audiovisual productions, which also resulted in the feature film “A Negação do Brasil”. Araújo approached black militancy in the 1980s, when he began to work in the educational sphere and to show films on the peripheries.

Other productions well recognized by critics, such as “Cinderelas, Lobos and Um Príncipe Encantado”, “As Filhas do Vento”, “Raça” and “São Paulo Abraça Mandela” evaluate the idea of ​​common sense of racial democracy, in addition to reaffirming the role of blacks in the country’s culture.

5. Helena Solberg

Maria Helena Collet Solberg (Rio de Janeiro, 1940) is a producer, director and screenwriter. He started his academic journey studying Neolatine Languages ​​at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ) and cinematographic collaborating in the direction of the films “Capitu” and “A Mulher de Todos”, alongside already established directors. The opportunity was given, above all, for mastering the English and French languages ​​and having fulfilled the role of reporter in the Metropolitano newspaper.

His debut as a filmmaker took place with the release of the short film “The Interview” in 1966. Solberg’s documentaries deal with diverse subjects, however with a focus on Latin America, such as the lives of women in South American countries, history and resistance from Nicaragua and Brazilian artists.

Her featured works are “”, “Vida de Menina” – an adaptation of the literary work of the same title – and “Palavra (En) sung”, this being the most watched documentary in Brazilian cinemas in 2009.

By Beatriz Foiadelli de Faria – Speak! Casper