Eduardo Coutinho (São Paulo, 1933) is an essential name in Latin American documentary film. His work is shaped by political issues but manages to avoid propaganda, as he addresses the everyday lives and the subjectivities of marginal majorities with a sensibility not altered by melodrama. Coutinho has performed his professional activity in several fields, including law, theatre, and both print and television journalism. His first contact with film occurred when he was the editor of the magazine Visão. His work with the television staff of Globo Repórter, for decades the most popular documentary program in Brazil, enabled him, despite the censorship in place at the time, to conduct in-depth documentation on numerous topics: the drought and the harshness of agricultural work, the banditry plaguing the north-eastern part of the country, the lives of public figures, such as Colonel Teodorico Bezerra and the painter Cándido Portinari, among others.
After the success of his documentary Cabra marcado para morrer (1984), highly praised by critics all over the world (and the winner of the Grand Coral, the top prize at the Havana Film Festival as well as the Golden Toucan in Río de Janeiro), Coutinho left the staff of Globo Repórter to work in the production of video documentaries and to write scripts for series made by TV Manchete. At the same time, he made his own documentaries, creating works such as O Fio da Memória which, coinciding with the centennial of the abolition of slavery, analyses the presence of black people in Brazilian culture and history. Other films of his include Boca do Lixo, Santa Marta-duas semanas no Morro, O Jogo da Dívida and Romeiros do Padre Cícero. Starting in 1999, Coutinho returned to feature-length films in digital video (later transferred to 35 mm) and he directed films such as Santo Forte, Babilônia 2000, Edifício Master, Jogo de cena and As Cançoes.
Coutinho's cinema has been defined by Consuelo Lins from the perspective of "the ethics of cruelty" but not in the sense of maintaining or showing suffering, but rather in that of rejecting complacency in his relationship with the subjects or situations he shows throughout his filmmaking career.