Portuguese English
A Man of Morale Doc . 35mm . Color . 84’. 2009
About the film

"Ten years after having shot the Amazon river with Paulo Vanzolini, the scientist, in the film “On the River of the Amazons”, I intend to travel through the city of São Paulo with Paulo Vanzolini, the composer.

This project began by accident. In 2002, composer Paulo Vanzolini called up his friends and decided to make an album with his songs. At the age of 78, the moment had come to come to terms with his work as a composer. Since 1984, I’ve been documenting Vanzolini’s work as a zoologist; however, I had never done anything centered in Vanzolini as a composer. Since I was always around, I began to register his rehearsals, the recordings and finally, the concert “Tribute to Paulo Vanzolini”, held at SESC Vila Mariana in January 2003.

Together with Adoniran Barbosa, Paulo Vanzolini’s work is recognized as one of the best São Paulo’s samba. Many of his songs are true classics of our popular music: Ronda, Volta por Cima, Praça Clóvis, Cuitelinho, Capoeira de Arnaldo, Boca da Noite, and so on.

Vanzolini’s lyrics, particurlarly his sambas, are noteworthy for the absence of a very common character in sambas: the malandro (popular figure that denominates a clever man, at least he thinks he is, that believes he can takes advantages in all situations). According to his researcher Ludmila Lima well-recalled, “Vanzolini is a composer of ethics and morals”.

Aside from the public’s recognition, Vanzolini is also tremendously respected amongst musicians. They all gawk at how someone who knows nothing about music, who can’t tell a major from a minor key, can make such great songs.

During the recording of the album I didn’t shoot any depositions and nothing beyond what has happening then. I did not interfere at all. Now I intend to reencounter with the musicians and the people who are connected to Vanzolini in order to gather depositions from: Chico Buarque, Paulinho da Viola, Inezita Barrozo, Martinho da Vila, Márcia, Eduardo Gudin, Virgínia Rosa, Ana Bernardo, Carlinhos Vergueiro, Elton Medeiros, Cristina Buarque de Holanda, Chico Aguiar, maestro Ítalo Perón, mandolin player Izaías Almeida, and many more.

Even though the film focuses on Vanzolini, the composer, the intellectual and man of his time will not be put aside. Because of all this, there will also be depositions from the teachers Antônio Cândido (the memory of Vanzolini at Sérgio Buarque de Holanda’s house and the literary quality of his lyrics), Aziz Ab’Saber (an intellectual partnership of mutual influence for over 50 years), Paulo Nogueira Netto, Willian Saad, the trainees Francisca Doval and Celso Carvalho, and USP med student, Drauzio Varella.

Vanzolini belongs to the great Brazilian intellectuals team. What he does or says, in science or in music, always leaves a strong mark. It would be very good to put this in a film”.
(Ricardo Dias)


A 24 VPS Films production, Cinematográfica Superfilmes, RCSD production.


A Man of Morale is a musical documentary about scientist and composer Paulo Vanzolini. Ricardo Dias, director of The Lizards of Boiaçu and On the River of the Amazons, both of which presented Vanzolini - the scientist, now presents Vanzolini - the musician, his sambas, friends and the city of Sao Paulo, a very comon subject in his songs. 

Director Ricardo Dias

Ricardo Dias is biologist, has a Cinema degree by the University of Sao Paulo and a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies by the New York University (1982). He works in the movie business since 1977. Has directed several medium length and short movies, and also works directing educational programs to brazilian television channels. In 2009, he directed the documentary  Um Homem de Moral, and in 1999 the documentary Faith, which won the Best Documentary Award at Biarritz Festival 1999. Previously, Dias directed the documentary On the River of the Amazons (1995), winner of eight national awards, including Best Film (Cuiabá – 95), Best Director (Brasília – 95) and Best Brazilian Film of 95 by the Art Critics’ Association of São Paulo (APCA). 


Special Participations: 


  • Paulo Vanzolini
  • Chico Buarque
  • Paulinho da Viola
  • Martinho da Vila
  • Chico Aguiar
  • Maria Marta
  • Paulo Nogueira
  • Márcia
  • Ana Bernardo
  • Virgínia Rosa
  • Miúcha
  • Inezita Barroso
  • João Macacão
  • Edu Maia
  • Bando de Macambira

Screenwriter and Direction

Ricardo Dias


Carlos Ebert


Marcello Bloisi

Musical Direction

Italo Perón


Ítalo Peron, Paulo Vanzolini and Alexandre Guerra (tema de abertura)


Zita Carvalhosa

Production Manager

Afonso Coaracy and Daniel Santiago

Sound Editing

Fernando Henna


  • Cine Pe Festival do Audiovisual 2009 - Special Prize of the Jury, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Editing
  • 4ª CineOP - Mostra de Cinema de Ouro Preto
  • V Festival de Cinema Brasileiro de Goiânia - Best Sound
  • 37 º Festival de Cinema de Gramado
  • Mostra Internacional de Musica em Olinda /MIMO 2009
  • 7º Festival de Cinema de Maringá - Best Sound Editing and Best Music
  • 5º Festival Nacional de Cinema e Vídeo dos Sertões - Best Music
  • 6º FestCineBelém - Festival de Belém do Cinema Brasileiro

Endereço Av. Dr. Vieira de Carvalho, 192 / 101 -  República - CEP 01210-010 - São Paulo - Brazil Telefone +55 11 3031.5522  E-mail super@superfilmes.com.br