Eduardo Coutinho's PLAYING at Flaherty NYC

Word Play
Programmed by Chris Stults & Genevieve Yue


One of the greatest documentarians of his generation, the Brazilian Eduardo Coutinho was cinema’s consummate interviewer. Playing is his underseen, layered examination of women’s lives, performance, storytelling, and the line between fiction and documentary. Women who answered a classified ad looking for subjects with interesting stories to tell talk with Coutinho about their (often tragic) life stories. As the film goes on, things become more slippery as it’s revealed that many of the women are some of Brazil’s finest actresses are using the original monologues as texts to perform. Wu Tsang opens the program with Shape of a Right Statement, where she re-performs a powerful address by autism rights activist Amanda Baggs.

Playing / Jogo de cena
(Eduardo Coutinho, Brazil, 2007, 105 mins, 35mm)


It was a strange ad in a Brazilian newspaper: an audition for a documentary. And yet a total of 83 women responded, though only a few of them ended up in the documentary itself. While being filmed, they recount painful life experiences about failed relationships, the loss of a child, and strained family ties. Playing not only foregrounds these tragic stories, but adds another layer of complexity when five well-known actresses, including Marília Pêra, Fernanda Torres, and Mary Sheyla are brought in to reperform these narratives. In doing so, Eduardo Coutinho examines the tension between a story and the way it is told, and the tenuous line separating life from performance. (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam) 

Preceded by Shape of a Right Statement (Wu Tsang, USA, 2008, 5 min.)