Ricardo Costa

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Ricardo Costa
Ricardo-costa.jpg Ricardo-costa.jpg
BornRicardo Costa
(1940-01-25) 25 January 1940 (age 81)
Peniche, Portugal
🏳️ NationalityPortuguese
💼 Occupation
📆 Years active  1974–present

Ricardo Costa (born 25 January 1940) is a Portuguese film director and producer. [1][2][3][4][5][6]

He is the author of essays on cinema, vision, and language.[7]


Most of his filmography consists of documentary films, pure cinéma vérité. Many include fiction elements (docufiction and ethnofiction). He uses the techniques of direct cinema not only as a tool for practicing salvage ethnography but also as a means to compose sober, "musical" and poetic narratives, interesting cinephiles and suitable for common audiences.

Mists (Brumas) was selected for the 60th Venice Film Festival, New Territories (2003) [8][9][10][11] Mists is the first film of an auto-biographic docufiction trilogy on time and human wanderings : Faraways (Longes).[12] Drifts (Derivas), the second one, a comedy, released in Portugal, January 2016, is "a portrait of Lisbon drawn through the peregrinations of two unfit venerable brothers across the city".[13] The third and last film of the sequel is Cliffs (Arribas) [14] in which the protagonist goes back to his homeland via time travel. There he will face disquieting situations and puzzling characters.

Unlike most Portuguese films, all the films by Ricardo Costa have been made with very low or no budgets and no support from the national institution that finances cinema, the ‘Portuguese Film and Audiovisual Institute (ICA)’, dependent on the Ministry of Culture.[15]


Costa completed his studies in 1967 at the Faculty of Arts at the Lisbon University. After submitting a thesis on the novels of Kafka, Franz Kafka: uma escrita invertida (Franz Kafka, Writing In The Mirror), he earned a PhD in 1969.[16] He was a high school teacher and owned a company (pt: MONDAR editores), where he published a number of sociological texts and avant-garde papers, literature and cinema. After the Carnation Revolution in 1974, he became a filmmaker. He was a partner of Grupo Zero, with others such as João César Monteiro, Jorge Silva Melo [17] or Alberto Seixas Santos. Later, he became an independent producer with the company Diafilme, where he produced several of his films and some of other directors. He organized film screenings and cycles in Paris (Cinémathèque Française and Musée de l'Homme).[18][19][20][21][22]


Mythical and real [23] characters interact in traditional narratives as well as nowadays in everyday life. They feature people that embody the values of the civilization. People like these have been studied by Marcel Mauss. Mauss argues in his book The Gift [24] that rural societies (like those pictured in a number of Portuguese films shot in the sixties and seventies) practiced “old exchange systems centered around the obligations to give, to receive, and, most importantly, to reciprocate.” (...) “In so doing, he refutes the English tradition of liberal [25] thought, such as utilitarianism, as distortions of human exchange practices”.

Country people like these have been an object of research by Viegas Guerreiro as well, who comes to similar conclusion as Mauss.[26] Beyond political motivation, other Portuguese filmmakers, more sensible to poetical expression (António Reis, Margarida Cordeiro, António Campos, Ricardo Costa) attempt to unveil something less visible in the life of certain villages. They are more akin to Viegas Guerreiro, who takes part in the film Pitões, aldeia do Barroso as an ethnography consultant and as actor. (See : Barroso region).

This concern stems from the need felt by most Portuguese filmmakers to respond to the dictatorship of Salazar, to which they had to submit for over forty years. Dictatorship only finished in Portugal with the Carnation Revolution in April 25, 1974. Some of these filmmakers chose to strictly follow Mauss's options by adopting the criteria of militant cinema, making exalted movies.[27][28] Others more sensitive to Guerreiro 's appeasing character try other techniques.[29]

In some way moved by the idea that explains a sentence of Marcel Mauss, a well-known French sociologist and anthropologist, ("There is more poetry in a grain of reality than in the brain of a poet"), certain Portuguese filmmakers, especially after the Carnation Revolution, traveled around their country, from camera in hand. With state funds or in co-production with the national broadcast TV station, the RTP, some made "engaged films" (cinéma engagé, i.e. political cinema), but never with lack of charm. Others make films in which reality, as an expression of actual events, appears with that poetical charge, as Mauss refers. Films shot with low budgets but in full liberty. Films portraying reality, a genre to which all those productions fit, would last for a few years and would generate important or even remarkable works, some of which were forgotten.[30]

Costa identifies himself more with that simple idea than with the purpose of changing the world, something intended by most of young Portuguese directors who suffered the traumas of Salazar's dictatorship. They now make political films to help their country heal its wounds and breathe. Trying the same other way, Costa cultivates a style in which reality turns into poetical expression, into human portrait, into an interrogation point. Mise en scène, the fictional attraction, will be for him a permanent temptation.

Peasants fighting for life in similar landscapes, epic fighters in not so remarkable wars, have been studied by Portuguese researcher Viegas Guerreiro, who comes to identical conclusion as Mauss.[31] Beyond political motivation, others more sensitive to poetic expression (António Reis, Margarida Cordeiro, António Campos, Ricardo Costa) venture to find something less visible, something deeper in the lives of certain villages and certain people. They identify more with whom, like Viegas Guerreiro, concentrates his work on observation and only then expresses himself. That is why Guerreiro takes part in (pt) Pitões, a village of Barroso as an ethnographic consultant and as an actor in one of the scenes of this film (See: Barroso region).

This concerns the need felt by most Portuguese filmmakers to respond to the dictatorship of Salazar, to which they had to submit for many years. As a result of this state of affairs, the country remained in painful economic and cultural backwardness compared to most European countries. That caused a huge volume of emigration in the 1960s, particularly from rural areas, both to Europe and to other continents.[32] The isolation of these remote regions, on the other hand, meant that secular traditions, communal uses, and practices of mutual help remained untouched.[33][34]

Most Portuguese filmmakers would experience a golden age in the two decades that followed the Carnation Revolution in April 25, 1974. Some of them chose to strictly follow Mauss's options by adopting the criteria of militant cinema making exalted movies.[35][36] Others, more sensitive to Guerreiro's appeasing character, would try other techniques.[37][38] They will feel good with their conscience and happy to show the world examples of what matters : archaic societies which practice environmentally friendly techniques use ethnobiology (a global imperative today) to protect nature in the same way as a filmmaker uses ethnofiction or docufiction to help improving human knowledge.[39]

File:Manuel Pardal e capataz.jpg
Manuel Pardal with his old friend facing the foreman

Frontier, fiction and fact[edit]

Mists had its world premiere at the 60th Venice International Film Festival, section New Territories, 2003. The film was screened in three different theaters on different days. The young daughter of Francis Coppola, beautiful Sophia Coppola, premiered her second feature film Lost in Translation in this festival, and so did veteran Jim Jarmusch, the maverik of cinema’, who premiered his 8th feature Coffee and Cigarettes. [40] Both Sophia's and Jim's screenings were full with fans from the Italian intellectual elite, a young generation issued from of Catholics, communists and liberals.[41]

More than their parents, grateful in a more elegant way to the great American nation for helping Italy get rid of Mussolini, wouldn't this elite miss any opportunity to show off at worldly resonant events like this. Newspapers and television stations from around the world were there, in Venice, in the center of the universe. That is the question. The question for Mists is quite another : in its first screening there was a single spectator : the director. It does not matter. No one noticed, except the festival organization, that wisely decided to take action for the two other exhibitions that followed. What matters is a different kind of resonance, like film reviews as those at Rotten Tomatoes: [42], [43], [44] Film trailers can help putting some light on this issue. Film trailers can help putting some light on this issue. [45], Coffee and Cigarettes [46], Mists[47] Film criticism is a matter of Culture when not applied to influence consumer behaviour. Also in this case what makes the difference is that daemons, more than the angels, haunt the universe of cinema.

Jean Rouch let himself be tempted by both creatures, scalding his feet once for all, when he stepped beyhond a frontier line, going too far. He fell in love with more than one "fifteen years old widows". To anyone who knows him, such nonsense would be expected since he is known as the "transporter of the memory of the worlds".[48] Lionel Rogosin has been one of them. Rogosin, whom Rouch never met and very probably never heard about, was one of them. The first one was Robert Flaherty, some years before. The common point is that both Rouch and Rogosin were inspired by this pioneer. This story has much to do with the history of 1960's and 1970's in film.[49] It has to do not only with the mission of Art films but also with the equipment necessary to make them. Rogosin had to use heavy cameras and sound recorders whereas Rouch thought in inventing light devices for both uses, and so he did. He was able to go a step further by contributing to the creation of portable and ergonomic 16mm cameras capable of shooting in sync with rugged, lightweight sound recorders. The prototype of the 16 mm Éclair-Coutant camera resulted from a technical experiment interesting both Rouch and André Coutant [50] The design of the Nagra sound recorder was the result of a similar collaboration of Rouch with Stefan Kudelski. Since then, many models of 16mm sync cameras were manufactured in Europe and in the USA. Portuguese filmmakers and the RTP mainly adopted the Éclair 16. Some of them had German Arriflex 16SR cameras, which fell in disuse as they were too heavy and expensive, and others the American 16mm CP-16, much lighter and cheaper but not so good, that allowed sound recording on a thin magnetic strip of the film. Diafilme, the company managed by Ricardo Costa, owned a Coutant and a CP.

The design of most modern portable digital camcorders is inspired by the 16 mm Éclair-Coutant. Costa acquired a Ikegami DVCpro25 camcorder (half the resolution of DVCpro50) [51] to make Paroles) (1998), the interviews with Rouch at the Musée de l'Homme,[52] in Paris. This camera would be used to shoot Mists (2003) and Drifts (2017). In the meantime, high-definition video cameras became much smaller responding to the need of filming with no embarrassment. Cameras that may be held between two fingers would be used to shoot Cliffs on the shores of Peniche, the most western boundary of Eurasia.

Thus, in the film Paroles converge two narrative lines of the same story : one of technological nature and the other of anthropological order, this one consisting in oral traditional narratives going beyond ‘moving words’, reaching extreme frontiers in a remote past in order to help us understand how the future will be. Following Rouch's legacy, these lines also converge in the last chapter of the Farawys Trilogy, in which the ‘hero’, the photographer, with no wage, no help and no choice, portraits himself alone trying to decipher the enigma of a petrified primeval tinny marine chordate that he unexpectedly finds, among many other mysterious creatures, on the sea shores of his homeland.[53]


Feature films[edit]

  • 1976: Avieiros – Avieiros, Tagus fishermen
  • 1976: Mau Tempo, Marés e MudançaChanging Tides
  • 1979: Castro Laboreiro – Castro Laboreiro
  • 1979: Pitões, aldeia do Barroso – Pitões, a village of Barroso
  • 1980: Verde por fora, vermelho por dentro – Green Outside, Red Inside
  • 1981: O Pão e o VinhoBread and Wine
  • 1981: Longe é a cidade – Far is the City
  • 1981: Ao Fundo desta Estrada – Further Ahead on This Road
  • 1985: O Nosso Futebol – Our Football Game
Faraways trilogy :
  • 2003: Brumas – Mists
  • 2016: Derivas – Drifs[54]
  • 2017: Arribas – Cliffs[55][56]

Other genres[edit]

  • 1998 Paroles (editing date 2006) – original language in French : Paroles (Words), interviews with Jean Rouch (long version, three parts version, and TV version)

Short and middle-length films[edit]

  • 1974: No Fundo de Tróia (26') – On the Bottom of Troia
  • 1974: Apanhadores de Algas (28') – Seaweed Catchers
  • 1974: Ágar-Ágar (27') – Agar-agar
  • 1975: Tresmalho (27') – Drifting
  • 1975: O Trol (25') – Long-lining
  • 1975: O Arrasto (29') – Trawling
  • 1975: Oceanografia Biológica (28') – Biological Oceanography
  • 1975: Ti Zaragata e a Bateira (27') – Uncle Zaragata and his Boat
  • 1975: Pesca da Sardinha (29') – Sardine Fishing
  • 1975: Conchinha do Mar (26') – Sea Shell
  • 1975: Às vezes custa (27') – Sometimes it's hard
  • 1975: A Sacada (26') – The Miracle Fishing
  • 1976: Os Irmãos Severo e os Cem Polvos (29') – The Brothers Severo and the Hundred Octopuses
  • 1976: À Flor do Mar (29') – On the Waterline
  • 1976: A Colher (29') – The Spoon
  • 1976: O Velho e o Novo (28') – Old and New
  • 1976: A Falta e a Fartura (26') – Lack and Wealth
  • 1976: Quem só muda de Camisa (28') – Changing his Shirt
  • 1976: A Máquina do Dinheiro (28') – The Money Machine
  • 1976: Viver do Mar (28') – Living on Sea
  • 1976: Uma Perdiz na Gaiola (26') A Perdix in Cage
  • 1976: Nas Voltas do Rio (30') – On the River
  • 1976: O Submarino de Vidro (28') – The Glass Submarine
  • 1976: Das Ruínas do Império (28') – On The Empire Ruins The film include in voice over : Horizonte poem 1, Calma poem 2 and Ocidente poem 3 by Fernando Pessoa)[57]
  • 1976: Cravos de Abril (28') – April Carnations (View fr: Œillets d'Avril) : the Carnation Revolution in Portugal
  • 1977: E do Mar Nasceu (38') – Sea born
  • 1978: Música do Quotidiano (25') – Everyday Music
  • 1978: Abril no Minho (50') – April in Minho
  • 1979: A Lampreia (6') – Lamprey
  • 1979: A Coca (13') – Saint George and the Dragon
  • 1979: Histórias de Baçal – Stories from Baçal
  • 1979: Esta aldeia, Rio de Onor – This Village, Rio de Onor
  • 1979: O Pisão (13') – The Fulling Mill
  • 1979: A Feira (7') – The Village Market
  • 1979: O Outro Jogo (6') – The Other Game
  • 1980: Joaquim da Loiça – Joaquim da Loiça
  • 1980: Pastores da Serra da Estrela (8') – Shepheards of Serra da Estrela
  • 1980: Barcos de Peniche (13') – Ships of Peniche
  • 1980: O Parque Nacional de Montesinho (50') – The National Park of Montesinho
  • 1982: Lisbon and the Sea (Lisbon and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea) for the UNESCO[58]
  • 2014: GIG – ten minutes sequence shot film essay in honor of Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon)


Articles and essays on vision and language (pt, fr, en)


  • 1982 – O olhar antes do cinema (The Eyes Before Cinema : recurring items in creative documentary) [59]
  • 2000 – A outra face do espeho (The Other Side Of The Mirror : the decisive contribution of Jean Rouch to the reinvention of documentary).
  • 2017 – Jean Rouch do avesso (Jean Rouch In Reverse : appendix to the preceding article; the incursions of Jean Rouch in fiction; ethnofiction as a portrait of the Paris "natives" in their natural environment).


The essays by Ricardo Costa have not been translated yet. They have been published online under the title A Linha do Olhar' ("The Line of Sight" – cinema and metamorphosis, perception and image).

  • 1997 – Os Olhos e o Cinema (The Eyes and the Cinema (first volume from "The Line of Sight" : theoretical and historical study on the evolution of cinema since its invention, highlighting the decisive contribution of Georges Méliès). (pt)
  • 2000 – Olhos no Ecrã (Eyes On The Screen – second volume from of "The Line of Sight"; the paper develops the themes of the previous essay, highlighting the ideas and theories that most contributed to the evolution of the art of cinema). (pt)
  • 2002 – Os Olhos da Ideia (The Eyes Of Ideia – third and last volume from The Line of Sight. This paper projects the essentials of the preceding ones on film theory, restricting them to vision and language, opening perspectives on the central concept of Idea, from Plato and Aristotle, and analyzing it as conditioned by intentionality. (pt)

Pedagogical texts[edit]

Texts on film techniques, nomenclature and aesthetics. (pt)

  • 2010 – Linguagem do Cinema (Film Language). This paper gathers information that may be useful to professionals, students, academics or researchers. (pt)

See also[edit]

  • Cinema of Portugal


  1. Ricardo Costa at Portuguese Cinema
  2. Ricardo Costa : A Look at Portugal at Cineurope
  3. O Cais do Olhar by José de Matos-Cruz: 20th century Portuguese feature films, published by the Portuguese Cinematheque, 1999
  4. Ricardo Costa and the flowing pictures, article by José de Matos-Cruz
  5. HERITALES 2017, 2nd International Heritage Film Festival | May – December 2017 having Ricardo Costa as jury president
  6. RICARDO COSTA (the filmmaker) – article at Vilnius University, Lithuania, April 2011
  7. Writtings by Ricardo Costa
  8. Mists, reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. Mists – NY press, 24/25 March 2011
  10. 60th Venice Fest Announces Lineup, Declaring that Cinema Isn’t Dead – news by Eugene Hernandez at IndieWire concerning the 60th Venice International Film Festival, New Territories, August /September 2003
  11. Film “Mists” by Ricardo Costa – Providence – news at the Portuguese American Journal, 22 March 2011
  12. Faraways
  13. Drifts
  14. Cliffs, (Arribas)
  15. INCENTIVES AND COPRODUCTION at the Portuguese Film and Audiovisual Institute (ICA)
  16. Franz Kafka, uma escrita invertida (Franz kafka, Writing in The Mirror) – thesis by Ricardo Costa on the list by Kafka.com, bibliography on Kafka published in Portugal
  17. Silva Melo at the IMDb
  18. Cycle at Cinémathèque Française, Paris (from 9 to 20 October 2002)
  19. Cathalogue CF, page 1 (in French)
  20. Cathalogue CF, page 2 (in French)
  21. Cathalogue CF, page 3 (in French)
  22. Paroles
  23. Myth and Reality – paper by Mircea Eliade(“Myth is an extremely complex cultural reality, which can be approached and interpreted from various and complementary viewpoints.”)
  24. The Gift, essay by Marcel Mauss – Frech original text : Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques
  25. Illusion and Value, or Marcel Mauss on Alienability and Inalienability article by Marcos Lanna, Universidade Federal de São Carlos
  26. Viegas Guerreiro at Dicionary of Portuguese Historians
  27. Militant Cinema: from Third Worldism to Neoliberal Sensible Politics – article by Irmgard Emmelhainz
  28. Art and the Cultural Turn: Farewell to Committed, Autonomous Art? – article by Irmgard Emmelhainz
  29. Importance of local knowledge in plant resources management and conservation in two protected areas from Trás-os-Montes, Portugal – article at the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 7(1):36 · November 2011
  30. Memories of the Change: the Post-Revolutionary Period and Portuguese Cinema – André Rui Graça and Sandra Guerreiro Dias at the "IV Colóquio Internacional de Doutorandos/as do CES", 6–7 December 2013
  31. Viegas Guerreiro at the Dictionary of Portuguese Historians
  32. Paper by Maria Baganha at Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Brown
  33. Terras do Barroso em dez andamentos – article in Portuguese newspaper Público, 24 December 2007
  34. Social practices, rituals and festive events (pt: "Práticas sociais, rituais e eventos festivos", article at Matriz PCI
  35. Militant Cinema: from Third Worldism to Neoliberal Sensible Politics – article by Irmgard Emmelhainz
  36. Art and the Cultural Turn: Farewell to Committed, Autonomous Art? – article by Irmgard Emmelhainz
  37. Importance of local knowledge in plant resources management and conservation in two protected areas from Trás-os-Montes, Portugal – article at the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 7(1):36 · November 2011
  38. Pitões, a Mountain Village – article at the University of Beira Interior
  39. HERITALES (2nd International Heritage Film Festival, May – December 2017) festival on intangible heritage organized by the University of Évora, with Ricardo Costa as chairman of the jury
  40. Jim Jarmusch: how the film world's maverick stayed true to his roots – interview by Jonathan Romney,The Guardian, 22 February 2014
  41. The Paradoxes of Post-War Italian Political Thought
  42. Lost in Tranlation
  43. Coffee and Cigarettes
  44. Mists
  45. Lost in Translation
  46. Coffee and Cigarettes
  47. Mists
  48. Jean Rouch in reverse with the 15 years old widows
  49. New Hollywood attempts, article by JT Esterkamp
  50. (fr) ECLAIR 16 at the site of Cinémathèque Française
  51. Ikegami DVCpro
  52. From the Musée d'Ethnographie to the Musée de l'Homme
  54. Drifts – web page with pictures
  55. Arribas – web page
  56. The Magic of Caves
  57. Poems online – listen to poems by Fernado Pessoa
  58. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  59. Creative Documentary : Theory and Practice – book by Erik Knudsen, Wilma de Jong and Jerry Rothwell

External links[edit]

This article "Ricardo Costa (filmmaker)" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Ricardo Costa (filmmaker). Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.