Nieman News

Documentary filmmaker Paul Carvalho with headphones

Paul Carvalho

Paul Carvalho, an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and a 1995 Nieman Fellow, died on August 17, 2023, at his home in Montreal, Canada, after a long illness. He was 72.

Carvalho started making films in 1996 after working as a radio and television news reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal and Toronto.

His documentary projects took him around the world as he chronicled topics ranging from the impact of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and East Timor’s transition to independence to profiles of Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Ernest Cormier, the architect who designed the University of Montreal, Norval Morrisseau, an Indigenous Canadian artist from the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation, and stained-glass artist Guido Nincheri, among others. His films focused on historical and biographical topics and often included a mix of French and English.

Carvalho was best known for “Montréal, mon amour, mon histoire,” a series of five films produced in honor of the city’s 375th anniversary in 2017. The documentaries were created in collaboration with Ici Radio-Canada and were broadcast by select PBS stations as well as in 30 languages around the world by TV5-World.

Born Paulo Antonio de Carvalho-Neto in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 1951, Carvalho as a child and teenager moved with his family across the Americas while his father, a Brazilian cultural attaché, served in different countries.

Following a military coup in Brazil, the family relocated to Los Angeles in 1968. Carvalho moved to Montreal when Radio Canada International was looking to hire Portuguese speakers to work during the 1976 Summer Olympics. He made the city his permanent home.

Carvalho was the first Quebec-based journalist to receive a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, where he studied during the 1994-1995 academic year.

During his marriage to Sandra Shatilla, a Montreal native of Lebanese descent, Carvalho deepened his understanding of matters in the Middle East and concern for the Palestinian people.

Carvalho is survived by a number of close friends and colleagues, his brothers Arthur Carvalho and Luis Marreco, sister Luci da Silva, niece Giselle Carvalho, nephew Alexandre Marreco and cousin Suzette Carvalho as well as their extended families and his partner Cynthia Ruth Davis.