Photography and Silverdocs

This year’s AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs slate includes numerous films that include photography such as C. Scott Willis’ THE WOODMANS, Malcolm Murray’s CAMERA, CAMERA, Lucy Walker’s WASTE LAND, Richard Press’ BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, and Miro Remo’s ARSY-VERSY and I am definitely excited to see as many of these films as possible.

I am very interested in hearing the Q&A for the films CAMERA, CAMERA and WASTE LAND.

CAMERA, CAMERA delves into the subject of the tourist in Laos and how the digital camera is the universal sign of the tourist there. The film asks audiences if westerners are steadily removing themselves from reality by looking through the camera’s viewfinder. The film asks audiences to reconsider what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.

I studied abroad in Italy last summer and my iPhoto currently holds hundreds and hundreds of pictures from my adventures overseas.  As I think about the film, CAMERA CAMERA, and compare it to my experience as a tourist I can definitely say that I may have blocked reality by hiding behind my viewfinder. Everything I had known about Italy before arriving in the country had been seen through beautiful pictures of the country and in other films that I had seen. I think after seeing these images, I tried to mimic the framing, shutter speed, lighting or whatever other camera technique that made these images appealing to me. What was I trying to capture? The rolling hills of Tuscany surrounding Orvieto? The perfect angle of the Colosseum in Rome? The colors of the fruit set up outside of stores along the cobblestone roads? The beauty of the Duomo in Florence? It turns out, I had seen all of these images before my trip and I basically wanted to mimic them for my own albums. I would jump on a plane right now and go back to Italy (don’t tell my boss!) but I would leave my camera behind. Wait, would I really leave my camera? This past semester I took my first actual photography class and learned so much about camera techniques and the innovative photographers who made their styles apparent. This class taught me to take my camera everywhere so. . .maybe I would regret not taking it. I think the conclusion is this: I think that CAMERA, CAMERA is trying to ask people to really take in their surroundings and culture and not think that they have to capture EVERY single image by way of a camera, and I am extremely interested to hear what the filmmaker has to say about his experience filming CAMERA, CAMERA. Find out when the Silverdocs 2010 screenings are of CAMERA, CAMERA HERE

At the opposite end of the photographic spectrum from pro-forma photography present in CAMERA, CAMERA, is the groundbreaking work of Francesca Woodman, whose compositions are known world over.

THE WOODMANS, directed by C. Willis Scott, focuses on an entire family of working artists. The Woodman household was one in which aesthetic priorities were foremost–for George, wife Betty, and their children Charlie and Francesca, art was not only a vocation but a way of being in the world. This carefully crafted film explores the continuing artistic endeavors of the family while recounting the troubled life of Francesca, whose innovative and prescient photographic work would achieve acclaim decades after its creation. To see when Silverdocs screenings are of THE WOODMANS find out HERE

Lucy Walker’s WASTE LAND is another film showing at Silverdocs this year that I am looking forward to seeing. The film begins as a physical journey from an art studio in Brooklyn all the way to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, and soon becomes a transformative power of art. Walker follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz who creates photographic images of people using found materials from the places where they live and work. “The beautiful thing about garbage is that it’s negative; it’s something that you don’t use anymore; it’s what you don’t want to see,” says Muniz. “So, if you are a visual artist, it becomes a very interesting material to work with because it’s the most nonvisual of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to hide.”

I guess the saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” can come into play here. Built on the edge of Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay directly across form the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, whose back is turned to it, arms outstretched away towards the south, the metropolitan landfill of Jardim Gramacho receives more trash every day than any landfill in the world. 7,000 tonnes of garbage arriving daily make up 70% of the trash produced by Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas. Vik Muniz “lives for the moment when all of our fixed preconceptions fail us and we are forced to enter a dialogue with the world we inhabit. In this moment we are confronted with the chaos that is otherwise hidden from view. It is precisely through his art work (both in product and process) that Muniz harnesses the generative possibility of chaos.” I am very interested to see his works of art when this film is screened at Silverdocs. See when the screenings will be for WASTE LAND at Silverdocs 2010 HERE

BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, directed by Richard Press, deals with a mainstay of the “Sunday Styles” section of the New York Times, Bill Cunningham, who is always taking photographs for his two columns (“Evening Hours” and “On the Street”). These columns showcase the fashion trends of New York City. Studiously devoted to his work, Bill gets around on a beat-up bike and lives frugally in a studio above Carnegie Hall that is mostly storage space for his extensive archives, which are a time capsule of how we dressed week-by-week. What comes through the film are Bill’s exceptional generosity and good spirits, even as the 80-year-old must adapt to the changing modern world. Find out when BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK screenings are at Silverdocs 2010 HERE

ARSY-VERSY, directed by Miro Remo, focuses on Lubos, who is a happy-go-lucky 50-something who lives with his aging mother in what some would call a codependent relationship. Lubos is content to live in his own world, collecting butterflies, taking photographs and studying bats. However, his mother worries about him and what might become of him once she is gone. A quirky, unexpected treat, ARSY-VERSY takes a unique look at a mother-son relationship in which Lubos lives his free-spirited life, like the title says, upside down. To find out when ARSY-VERSY will be screened at Silverdocs 2010, click HERE

For all of you interested in photography I would definitely check out these films, and to see the entire slate of films for the festival this year go to silverdocs.com. The films will be sure to impress this year!

–posted by Ann Trimble

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One response to “Photography and Silverdocs

  1. Pingback: Travel Photography…Through a Lens Darkly « SILVERDOCSBlog

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