One of the more challenging films at the 2009 Silverdocs festival was EPISODE III: ENJOY POVERTY, which examined the developed world’s relationship to the poorest parts of Africa. In that same vein, the 2010 Silverdocs entry CAMERA, CAMERA pushes viewers to rethink how Westerners behave in developing nations. The film, shot in Laos, takes a critical look at travel photography — our own Ann Trimble analyzed that aspect of the film in an earlier post — but director Malcolm Murray and writer Michael Meyer also want audiences to grasp a broader political message.
Here’s how Meyer puts it: “When discussing the possibility of making a film in Laos, director Malcolm Murray and I quickly realized that travel photography was a compelling subject in its own right but also a profound metaphor for how a dominant culture frames the more fragile cultures it encounters.” Murray acknowledges that it’s a tricky subject: “Mike and I spent lots and lots of time filming, but probably spent more time talking about how to be truthful to the incredibly complicated situation that travelers create when they arrive in Laos. … CAMERA, CAMERA doesn’t hand everything to the people watching it. An audience has to work its way through the film, engage with it, and fill in the things that aren’t explained. What I’m going for with my films is something closer to the way a reader engages with a book.”
Buy tickets, see the trailer, and read a Q&A with Meyer and Murray (click on the “extras” tab) HERE. — Joe Warminsky, AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs 2010 Screening Committee