In Memoriam: José Carlos Avellar

Renowned and influential Brazilian film critic and journalist José Carlos Avellar died today at the age of 79. Details on the cause of death have not been disclosed. Born in 1936 in Rio de Janeiro, he was a leading theorist of Latin American and Brazilian cinema.

Avellar worked for over twenty years as a film critic for the Jornal do Brasil newspaper. He published six books of essays on cinema: Imagem e som, imagem e ação, imaginação (Paz e Terra, 1982), O cinema dilacerado (Alhambra, 1986), Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (Rocco, 1995), A ponte clandestina – teorias de cinema na América Latina (Editora 34 e Edusp, 1996), Glauber Rocha (Cátedra, 2002), O chão da palavra – cinema e literatura no Brasil (Rocco, 2007).

He was author of several texts on Brazilian and Latin American cinema, and a frequent collaborator with diverse publications. His writings appeared in numerous anthology books and catalogs of film festivals. He also taught cinema in various institutions. Since 2008, he served as film programmer at the Moreira Salles Institute.

Avellar served as deputy director of the cinematheque at Rio’s Museum of Modern Art in two periods (1969 and 1985), and director from 1991 to 1992. He also served as cultural director of Embrafilme (1985-1987), director of Rio de Janeiro's municipal film agency, Riofilme (1994-2000), and president of the board of the Petrobras Cinema program.

The Brazilian film critic was vicepresident of FIPRESCI, the International Association of Film Critics between 1986 and 1995, and was secretary of the same organization for Latin America. He participated in official juries and critical of juries in several international festivals, including Cannes and Venice.

Avellar also directed the short film Treiler (1965), and co-directed two collective short films: Destruição Cerebral (1977) with Nick Zarvos and Jotham Vilela; and Iver é uma festa (1972) with Tereza Jorge, This Milan, Manfredo Caldas and Alvaro Freire. He also worked as cinematographer for the films Manhã Cinzenta (Olney São Paulo, 1969) and Triste Trópico (Arthur Omar, 1974).

For his professional achievements, he received the decoration of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres conferred by the French government in December 2006. In 2014 he was honored at the Fénix Awards in Mexico City with a special award for his contribution to film criticism.

A collection of his writings (in Portuguese) is available at