13 minutes





The clutter of a used bookshop forms an evocative metaphor for memory

‘It’s a chaos with some order.’

Adeus aos Livros (Goodbye to Books) documents the waning days of Ulmeiro, a secondhand bookstore on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal. Owned by 76-year-old José Ribeiro and his wife Lucia, Ulmeiro is the kind of shop that’s so crammed with books, magazines, comics and CDs that, at any given moment, one may feel as if they’ll be crushed by centuries of information if they pull from the wrong pile. And yet, Ribeiro seems to have the entire shop organised in his head, knowing if he has certain rare books in the stacks when patrons enquire.

Through the Brazilian filmmaker Diego Quinderé de Carvalho’s lens, Ulmeiro is at once a book lover’s paradise and a Marie Kondo nightmare. With his carefully framed shots, he captures the organised chaos of the space in all its anachronistic glory – complete with a dedicated store cat and an old, sluggish computer. Within the film, Ribeiro isn’t shown to make a sale, as if he’s more preoccupied with collecting and holding knowledge than keeping the store open, all the while walking a fine line between preservation and hoarding. In Ribeiro and Ulmeiro, Quinderé de Carvalho finds an apt metaphor for the nature of memory itself – precious, scattered and inevitably impermanent.