For any true global documentary fan, the name Eduardo Coutinho inspires nothing short of reverence. Over a nearly 50-year career, the tragically deceased Brazilian director brought the world 17 films through which he pioneered his characteristic minimalist, conversational style that nevertheless reached into the most profound depths of the human condition. Between classics like 1984’s Cabra Marcada para Morrer (Twenty Years Later) and more recent films like 2002’s Edificio Master, Coutinho is respected as one of the world’s most original documentary voices and celebrated as one of Brazilian cinema’s true masters.
Unfortunately, back in early 2014 the then-80-year-old Paulista died under mysterious circumstances, the victim of an apparent murder of which his own son is a primary suspect. Understandably, the international film community was devastated by the loss of one of the world’s great film artists, but luckily Coutinho has found a way to continue speaking to us from the great beyond. Ultimas Conversas (Last Conversations ) is an 85-minute-long feature based around a series of simple, straightforward conversations Coutinho had with Brazilian youth, in which the filmmaker’s deep empathy allows his subjects to open up and reveal something of their inner worlds.
Shot by Coutinho in the years before his death, the film was finished by Coutinho’s editor and frequent collaborator Jordana Berg along with Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles. The film’s brief trailer gives the uninitiated a sense of Coutinho’s simple, clean, and unpretentious style, while also suggesting the profound humanity that the filmmaker can reveal through the understated art of empathetic conversation. From themes of bullying, race, and family dynamics, to a philosophical reflection on chaos, paradise, and the eternal, Coutinho lets his subjects reveal themselves without ever hiding his own participation.
Last Conversations premiered late last year at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), before making its way across the pond where it played at the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival (RIDM) in November. Disciples of Coutinho will be pleased to now that the RIDM is currently accepting submissions for its upcoming 2016 edition. The submission deadline is May 31, 2016. Don’t miss out on the chance to feature your work at this world class film event, and follow in the footsteps of one of history’s greatest documentary artists.