Flesh for the Author: Filmic Presence in the Documentaries of Eduardo Coutinho.
Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, 51
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This essay examines the questions of authorship and national cinema through the concept of filmic presence. Drawing from Tom Gunning’s valorization of “instants” and “presentation” in the cinema of attractions and from Deleuze’s “cinema of bodies,” the essay studies self-inscription through the director’s photographic image. Key to this analysis is Barthes’s idea of authorial figuration, which privileges physical presence over self-expression.
The object of this investigation is the work of Brazilian documentarian Eduardo Coutinho, who in the past decade has revised the role of sociologist that once defined Latin American filmmakers by shunning interpretation and analysis. Coutinho stresses the encounter between camera and subject, structuring his documentaries as talking heads. In this scenario, the author functions as a catalyst inspiring specific “performances” and narratives. By the same token, Coutinho’s documentaries emphasise the subjects’ body language, syntax and accent. Narrative and self-expression are thus replaced by process and presence.
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