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Fernando Spencer

Date Born.:

Filmmarker, Journalist


Fernando Spencer

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 13/01/2015

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Fernando José Spencer Hartmann was born in Recife on 17 January 1927, in a residence on Augusta St (today destroyed) in the São José neighbourhood, to Niconedes Brasil Hartmann and Maria Serafina Spencer Lopes Neto.

His father, the son of German engineer Antônio Guilherme Hartmann, was a police clerk and contributor to various Recife newspapers including the Jornal do Recife, A Noite, Jornal Pequeno and the Diario de Pernambuco.

He studied at several schools because of the constant moving of his family to new residences. He lived in the Afogados neighbourhood, in Recife, in Pau d’Alhoand Carpina, municipalities in the Pernambuco forest zone, and Visconde de Ouro Preto St in Casa Forte, close to the Park.

He finished his primary schooling at the Iracema da Costa Lima School, and did his secondary schooling at the Salesiano and Padre Félix Colleges, the former Ginásio do Recife.

He began working at 17, typing and designing gothic letters for the beginning of books, at the Pernambuco Delegacy for Political and Social Order. He also worked at the Births and Deaths Registrar in Casa Amarela, and also as head of the registration service in the domestic appliance company Arno S.A. His goal was, however, always to write and enter into a career in journalism.

He contributed to various Recife newspapers, such as the Jornal Pequeno; O Dia; Diario de Pernambuco, where from 1952 to 1953, and for ten years, he had a children’s page under the pseudonym Fernando Saldanha. He would later use the pseudonym Sérgio Nonain a page about cinema, musicand video in theDiario de Pernambuco. He also contributed to the literary supplements of the Jornal do Commercioand the Diario de Pernambuco by writing short stories,under his complete name: Fernando Spencer Hartmann.

His interest in cinema was influenced by his father. At thirteen, he received a gift of a toy projector that showed 35mm films which he used to build[...] a small theatre for about twenty people in the back yard, the Cine Metro[...].

At the end of the 1940s and 1950s, he frequented the Cine Ellite, a cinema that was close to his house in Casa Forte. He became friends with the doorman, whom he helped clean the hall and where he could watch dozens of musicals and westerns.

Besides being a journalist, reviewer and movie editor at the Diario de Pernambuco, where he worked for forty years (1958-1998), Spencer also had experience in radio. In the 1960s, he produced the show Filmelândia (Filmland), atRádioClube de Pernambuco, atRádioTamandaréandthe show Falando de Cinema (Speaking of Film), at TV RádioClube de Pernambuco. Both shows ran for eleven uninterrupted years.

In 1980, he assumed the coordination of the JoaquimNabuco Foundation’s Cinematheque, answering the invitation of the then-president of the organisation, Fernando de Mello Freyre, holding the position until 2000, when he retired.

Considered as the oldest director in the history of Pernambuco cinema and one of the pioneers of the Super Eight style of film making, Spencer began his career as a film-maker in 1969, with A busca (The Search), an experimental film of seven minutes that he wrote, directed and produced, in a home-made style, having his sons as actors and his friend Carlos Alberto Campos as camera operator.

Known as the 3 diameter film-maker (‘cineasta das trêsbitolas’)(super 8, 16 and 35mm), he claims to prefer making documentaries, as they have the advantage of being able to be made with a small team [...] me, the cameraman and one or two assistants [...]
His films were shown in colleges, the auditoriums of cultural associations, and especially at film festivals held in various Brazilian cities like Salvador, Recife,

São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, São Luis, and Penedo.

He was the president of the Brazilian Association of Documentarians and Director of the Theatre and Film Division of the Recife City Council’s Secretary of Education and Culture (1970s).

Maker of approximately 36 short films (in Super 8, 16mm, 35mm) and eight videos, he has won various national and foreign awards.

On his 80th birthday in January 2007, he was honoured with the release of the DVD Paixão de cinema (Passion for Cinema)about his rise, with statements from friends who had accompanied his career, gathered by MarcílioBrandão, one of the partners in Página 21, the project’s producers.

Surprised with the honour, the film-maker said: I was not expecting a work about my life. I didn’t imagine that by making movies would one day I could be the protagonist in a film.

From his filmography, the following work can be highlighted:

* Caboclinhos do Recife (Super-8, 10m),best film at the 1st Brazilian Super 8 Film Festival, Curitiba, PR, 1974.

* Valente é o galo (The Rooster is the Tough Guy)(Super-8, 10 m), best film at the 3rd Brazilian Journeyfor Short Film in Bahia, 1974;

* Bajado – um artista de Olinda (Bajado – An Artist from Olinda)(Super-8, col., 10 m), 1975;

* O teucabelonãonega(Your Hair Doesn’t Deny) (Super-8, col., 10 m), 1975;

* Domingo de fé(Faith Sunday) (Super-8, col., 10 m., 1976),

* Quem matou Marilyn (Who Killed Marylin), best editing at the 4thFestival of National Cinema inSergipe, 1976;

* Toré a NossaSenhora das Montanhas(Super-8, col., 10 m), best photography at the 4thFestival of National Cinema inSergipe, 1976;

* Farinhada(Super-8, col., 10 m), 1977;

* A eleição do Diabo e a posse de Lampião no Inferno (The Devil’s Election and Lampião’s Victory in Hell) (Super-8, col., 10 m), 1977;

* Frei Damião: um santo no Nordeste? (Friar Damião: a Northeast saint?)(Super-8, col., 10 m), 1977;

* Adão foi feito de barro (Adam Was Made from Clay)(16 mm, col., 13 m), 1978. Widened to 35mmafter having been selected by the National Council for Cinema – CONCINE,

* RH positive (RH Positive), best direction at the Ceará Medical Centre’s Festival of Cinema;

* As corocas se divertem (‘Carocas’ Have Fun), best communication film and 2nd best film at the 6thVI Festival of National Cinema inSergipe, 1978;

* Noza - santeiro do Carirí (Noza – Image-maker from Carirí)(16 mm., col., 10 m.), selected by CONCINE, Award: Argument, FUNARTE, 1979;

* Cinema Glória, 3º place at the 7th National Festival inSergipe, 1979 (in partnership withFelizFilho);

* EróticosCorbinianos (CorbinianErotics), best film at the 5th Cinema Sampling in Maranhão, 1981;

* Santa do Maracatu(16 mm., col., 10 m), best film and best editing at the 9thFestival of National Cinema inSergipe, 1981;

* MemorandoCiclo do Recife (Remembering the Cycle of Recife), best film in the TV Tropical contest, Recife, 1982;

* Estrelas de celulóide (Celluloid Stars), Jury special award (Candango de Ouro) at the 20th Brazilian Festival of Cinema in Brasília, 1987;

* O último bolero no Recife (The Last Bolero in Recife), Recife Culture Foundation award at the 1st Film and Video Screenplay Competition, 1987;

* Trajetória do frevo (The Rise of Frevo)(35 mm., col., 9 m), Recife Culture Foundation award at the 1st Film and Video Screenplay Competition, 1987;

* Evocações Nelson Ferreira (Nelson Ferreira Evocations), best film at the Latin-American Sampling of Cinema and Video, Maranhão, 1987. Best film at the 3rd Festival of Cinema from Portuguese-Speaking Countries, Aveiro, Portugal, 1988 (in partnership with Flávio Rodrigues);

* A arte de serprofane (The Art of Being Profane)(video, 14 m), on Pernambuco’s profane pastoral plays, 1999.

* Almery, aestrela (Almery, The Star) (digital video), with the support of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation’s Directory of Culture, released in Recife, in April 2007.

In 2007, Fernando Spencer was chosen as a Living Patrimony of Pernambuco.

With a long history in the cinematography of Pernambuco, Spencer was one of the most active filmmakers of the Super 8, in the 70's, in Recife.

The filmmaker of the three gauges (Super 8, 16 mm and 35 mm), as he was also known, died at the age of 87, a victim of lung cancer, on March 17, 2014.

Recife, 29 august 2008.
Updated August 28, 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
Updated January 25, 2018. (The last two paragraphs were written by the collaborator Claudia Verardi - Fundaj Librarian). 

sources consulted

ENTREVISTA realizada com Fernando Spencer. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Cehibra. Nabuco. Projeto: Pensamento Social e Político do Nordeste, [199-?].

MACIEL, Camila. Alunos de Jornalismo entrevistam o cineasta Fernando Spencer. Available at: <>. Access: 2 jan. 2008.

PAIXÃO de cinema, realizado por Marcílio Brandão. Recife, 2007. DVD duplo.

VERAS, Luciana. Uma marca na história do cinema pernambucano. Available at:<>. Access: 2 jan. 2008. Transcrito do Diario de Pernambuco, Recife, 29 jan. 2007. Caderno Viver.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Fernando Spencer. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.