RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Leading Brazilian film director Eduardo Coutinho was killed Sunday in an attack at his Rio de Janeiro home, local television reported. Initial reports suggested that the 80-year-old Coutinho’s son Daniel, who suffers from mental illness, stabbed his father to death. Coutinho’s wife Maria das Dores Coutinho, 62, was in serious condition and recovering in hospital from stab wounds to the chest and liver, police said.

Among Coutinho’s best known work was his 1967 drama “ABC do Amor” (The ABC of Love), which he directed with Argentina’s Rodolfo Kuhn.  It competed in the 17th Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Golden Bear. Daniel Coutinho, 41, was also taken to hospital after suffering stab wounds, a Rio health official said. Sao Paulo-born Eduardo Coutinho was widely considered one of Brazil’s finest directors and close associated. Coutinho associates said they were shocked at news of his death. Fellow film director Caca Diegues reflected he had known Coutinho for more than 50 years, working with him on several projects from the early 1660s. “We were close friends and I followed his career closely. He was one of the most intelligent directors I ever knew and the best documentary writer Brazil ever had,” Diegues said. Fellow director Silvio Tendler also expressed shock and sadness, saying Coutinho’s “films and lessons about life will stay in memory.”  “Without a shadow of a doubt, he was one of the greatest directors Brazil ever had. His passing is a great loss. And the violent end he met has left me deeply shocked,” Tendler told Globo news portal G1. Breaking off law studies at 21, Coutinho swiftly found his place in film and theater. He moved to France, producing his first documentaries in the late 1950s and honed his art at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies (IDHEC). Another landmark work was “Twenty Years Later” — a docudrama about an executed peasant leader that took 20 years to come to fruition after a 1964 military coup forced Coutinho to break off filming in Brazil. Seventeen years after starting the project, Coutinho returned to interview surviving local community leaders. Coutinho’s “Edificio Master,” an intimate portrait of families living in an apartment block in Rio’s Copacabana, earned him a series of awards, including the Gramado Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Kikito in 2002. Last year, he was inducted into the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Coutinho indicated he planned to make a documentary about popular protests that took place across Brazil in June against corruption, mismanagement and costs associated with staging the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.