More About the Film


The Last Hour of Summer begins with 200 small black and white photographs found at a flea market in Rio de Janeiro in 2003. They were scattered on the ground and people were walking on them. Turning them over, there were pictures of women on the beach and in someone’s apartment. There were also two pictures of a photographer shot in a mirror. This presumed photographer had also penned the first name of his subjects on the verso and dated his pictures. The time frame of 1962/1963 was auspicious because it correlated with the period just before the 1964 military coup in Brazil and represented the “last hour” before the change. 

There are various stories in the pictures. The core of the film will be the mystery of the found photos. We could tell that the photos were taken in Ipanema. And with some clever research, we eventually found people who were able to identify the late Orizon Carneiro Muniz as the photographer. Muniz was not a professional photographer, but a weekend photographer with a deep love for women and the beach. Muniz was also stricken with Polio and his camera became a means of participating in beach culture and a way to get closer to his subjects. He never married nor was he survived by any immediate family. But in the early 60s, Muniz was the center of a circle of friends and he documented this time with a remarkable trove of photographs. 

In an attempt to find the people in the pictures, we mounted an exhibition of Muniz’s photos in 2007 at Casa Laura Alvim on the beach in Ipanema. With substantial press coverage of the show, and an online gallery provided by O Globo for readers to help identify those in the pictures, we finally met many friends that Muniz photographed. Over 45 years later, most of the people in the photographs are still living in Rio. Spiraling out from the story of Orizon Carneiro Muniz, we will interview these people for their memories of both Muniz and their friendship with each other.

Among the people we met was a friend who had the remaining photos from Orizon Carneiro Muniz. There were 5000 more photographs. Using the entire archive as a visual base for the film, we will interview other people who will speak on the political nature of these images. As documents of this last moment before the dictatorship the photographs evoke images of innocence, beauty, hope, naïveté, wonder, and youth. The years between 1958 and 1964 in Brazil are considered the golden era when Brazil won back-to-back World Cups and emerged as global cultural force. The people speaking here will not be former friends of Muniz but those with a background in journalism and history. They will also reflect on how these photos capture something essential that was lost.

The photos also represent the last hour of the classic black and white snapshot before the widespread introduction of Kodacolor film in 1964. Photographic historians and photographers will then be interviewed to speak about the images from the perspective of personal photography. Historians who have seen these pictures claim that these vernacular photos are the missing link in the history of Brazilian photography. Orizon Carneiro Muniz was shooting at the far edge of a long period of black and white photography. Color would eventually change the representation of Ipanema and the archive of Muniz is situated at the threshold of these changes in visual culture. 

Spiraling further out, historians and local residents will talk about Ipanema in the early 60s when it was still a relatively hidden beach compared to the popularity of Copacabana. The cultural history of Ipanema in the early 60s is rich with many stories. While these photos were being taken, Tom Jobim was writing his most famous songs a few blocks away and in 1964, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto would win the Grammy and introduce Bossa Nova to the world. As Americans discovered Ipanema, surfers from California arrived in 1964 and they began to surf the waves at Arpoador, the first beach at Ipanema. The photos also document this threshold moment when Brazilian women begin to change in so many ways. Their style, their beauty, and the way they walked the beach would forever captivate the world.

At the end of the film we’ll ask people to speak about how Ipanema has changed and how the beach has become one of the most diverse public spaces in Rio. We’ll also ask those we interview to reflect on the nature of memory, lost time, the ephemeral nature of beauty in this world, and their memories of youth. These archetypes give the film a broader base than the history of a small circle of people in Ipanema. It’s our intention that anyone, no matter where they are, can see something of themselves in the photos of Orizon Carneiro Muniz and this film. As archetypes, these pictures stand for that eternal summer of becoming, the shimmer of beauty and youth, and the passage of summertime. We’ll end the film with contemporary footage of Ipanema and the rocks at Arpoador on the far side of the beach as young people today, more than ever, continue to photograph each other.