Ricardo Costa (filmmaker)

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Ricardo Costa
Ricardo Costa

(1940-01-25) 25 January 1940 (age 78)
Years active1974–present

Ricardo Costa (born 25 January 1940) is a Portuguese film director and producer.[1][2][3][4][5] He is the author of essays on cinema, vision, and language.


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), his penultimate film, was selected for the 60th Venice Film Festival, New Territories (2003)[6] and premiered in New York, 2011, at the Quad Cinema. It is the first film of an auto-biographic docufiction trilogy on time and human wanderings: Faraways (Longes).[7] 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".[8] The third and last film of the sequel is Cliffs (Arribas), in which the protagonist goes back to his homeland via time travel.[9] There he will face disquieting situations and puzzling characters.

Unlike most Portuguese films, all the films by Ricardo Costa have been made with no state funds and very low or no budgets.


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. 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 other filmmakers like João César Monteiro, Jorge Silva Melo and 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).[10][11][12][13][14]


In some way moved by the idea that explains one 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 film-makers, especially after the Carnation Revolution, traveled around their country, from one end to another, 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.[4][15]

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 for a long time. 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.

Manuel Pardal with a friend facing the foreman
Verde por fora.jpg


Feature films[edit]

FARAWYS trilogy:

Other genres[edit]

  • 1989 (production) / 2006 (editing) : Paroles (Words), interviews with Jean Rouch (long version, three parts version, and TV version) (in French)

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 WATCH FILM
  • 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 WATCH FILM (Voice over : Horizonte poem 1 Calma, poem 2 and Ocidente poem 3 by Fernando Pessoa)
  • 1976: Cravos de Abril (28') – April Carnations, Œillets d'Avril (fr): the Carnation Revolution in Portugal
  • 1977: Sea born (38') – E do Mar Nasceu
  • 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 of 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 Court for the Law of the Sea) for the UNESCO
  • 2014: GIG – ten minutes sequence shot film essay in honor of Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon) WATCH FILM


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) (pt)[19]
  • 2000 – A OUTRA FACE DO ESPELHO The Other Side of the Mirror: Jean Rouch and the Other (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).


Costa's essays have not been translated yet. They have been published online under the designation 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).
  • 2000 – Olhos no Ecrã (Eyes on the Screen – second volume from of "The Line of Sight"; the text develops the themes of the previous essay highlighting the ideas and theories that most contributed to the evolution of the art of cinema).
  • 2002 – Os Olhos da Ideia (The Eyes of Ideia – third and last volume from "The Line of Sight"; this essay 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.

Pedagogical texts[edit]

Texts on film techniques, nomenclature and aesthetics.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ricardo Costa at Portuguese Cinema
  2. ^ Ricardo Costa – article in Portuguese and Lithuanian (Page about Portugal, Vilnius University)
  3. ^ Ricardo Costa : A Look at Portugal at Cineurope
  4. ^ a b O Cais do Olhar by José de Matos-Cruz: 20th century Portuguese feature films, published by the Portuguese Cinematheque, 1999
  5. ^ Ricardo Costa and the flowing pictures, article by José de Matos-Cruz
  6. ^ Mists
  7. ^ Faraways
  8. ^ Drifts
  9. ^ Cliffs web page
  10. ^ Cycle at Cinémathèque Française, Paris (from 9 to 20 October 2002)
  11. ^ Cathalogue CF, page 1 (in French)
  12. ^ Cathalogue CF, page 2 (in French)
  13. ^ Cathalogue CF, page 3 (in French)
  14. ^ Paroles
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Drifts – Webpage with pictures
  17. ^ Arribas – Webpage
  18. ^ The Magic of Caves
  19. ^ Creative Documentary : Theory and Practice – book by Erik Knudsen, Wilma de Jong and Jerry Rothwell

External links[edit]