“Variations on the Author” discusses two of Eduardo Coutinho's recent films: Um dia na vida [One Day in Life] from 2010 and Últimas Conversas (Last Conversations), posthumously released in 2015, and their contribution to the general question of documentary authorship. The director's filmography is characterized by a consistent yet self-effacing form of authorial self-inscription: Coutinho often features as an interviewer who, rather than express opinions, propels discourses; an interviewer who is good at listening. This mode of self-inscription characterizes him as an author who is not expressive but who is nonetheless markedly present on the screen. In Um dia na vida, however, Coutinho is completely absent from the image. Últimas Conversas, on the contrary, includes a confessional prologue that moves the director from the margins to the center of his film. This article examines the ways in which these works stand out in the filmography of a director who offers new insights into the notion of cinematic authorship.

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