‘Salt of the Earth’, ‘Bitter Lake’ and ‘Bowling for Columbine’

Last weekend I went to see  the Sebastian Salgado film ‘ Salt of the Earth’

It was at the charming, tiny Chipping Norton Theatre – not many people there but interestingly in the ads before one for the joining  a debate about the Leverson Enquiry.

I’ve looked on- line for it…trying to remember the address, but it was on screen for such a short time I cant find it…Odd as the video was quite long….

Very pertinent as both Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron live a spit away from the Theatre….

About the film, it was shot by his son and Wim Wenders and fascinating though some of his images very distressing and as an autobiography left a lot of personal and, for me, ethical questions about his work and approach, hanging in the air.

I didn’t like the fact that his face was used as an overlay so much with him talking. Just his voice would’ve been fine and interviews separate.

It mixed him and his work up and maybe that’s what it was supposed to do: maybe, but the harshest of realities of some of his outstandingly beautiful images was enough of a contrast without the rather romantic approach to his life and decision making.

Still it was powerful film and interesting from a ‘witnessing’ point of view about what images to shoot and why.

Also how his interests developed as he changed…. because of the images he had taken.

A real reflexivity there..

I’d still have preferred to realise that myself rather having it directed at me with the portrait overlay.

Made me wonder about my recent effort…. and whether that says what I hope it does.

In contrast to that film, a Feature  available on DVD and at cinemas, is Adam Curtis’s,  iPlayer only, Bitter Lake which I don’t think I’ve posted about, but meant to…

I saw it a month or two ago and it really is transforming. An ‘enjoyable’ film in its own right, so intelligent in its analysis and the quality of its making.

I’ve only remembered to blog about it when Jonathan mentioned him in one of the Skype chats. It is focused on events in Afghanistan and how the situation came to be.

Lots of factual stuff presented very clearly within a ‘beautiful’ visual narrative that  also alludes to ideologies without overstating them.

Really impressive. I will watch more of his work.

It seems appropriate to watch these especially as journalism as a form of witnessing and documenting have come to my attention even more through the Reading Room work

I started the MA thinking about Documentation and Myth but things have sort of changed….I’ll have to assess how exactly.

Previously I was interested in the ‘truth’ of documentation and the effects of subjectivity etc..styles of Reportage but I need to address some of my thoughts about style in the very least…..

The other is Bowling for Columbine, which I watched some time ago.

Style completely different and of course, Michael More features in it.

What is great is the relationship he builds up with people and so what he manages to report.

It is the peoples’ ‘ truth’ as you can see it spoken but his interview style and way of working is really clever and of course the content is fascinating, and funny as well as horrific. A very clever combination.

So, I’m not going to make documentary film but the styles are still important.

I haven’t discussed cinematography or anything here…just really reminding me over the overall differences in style…

And also the effect the Leverson enquiry has had on the British Press and how we , as a public, perceive ‘it’.

A very different ideology from that in 1903 when the Reading Room opened!

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THEATRE: DAVID COTTERELL

Theatre By David Cotterrell ( 2009):

‘A composite extract of the Video Installation, ‘Theatre’ – an immersive 60minute, 5 HD channel projection of an aeromed flight from Camp Bastion to Kandahar

In 2007, Cotterrell was commissioned by the Wellcome Collection to travel to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with the assistance of the Ministry of Defence, to observe the work of the joint forces medical teams at Camp Bastion.
Theatre is an attempt to put into context the sense of abstraction Cotterrell experienced as a witness to the treatment received by combat trauma victims in the field hospital at Camp Bastion. The film relates to a flight made on the eve of Remembrance Day 2007, in which the artist accompanied a Critical Care Air Support Team during the night-time evacuation of a seriously injured soldier.Such flights are often only vaguely remembered by the sedated patient. Inside the belly of the Hercules transport plane, the juxtaposition of medical care and military hardware creates a strange environment. The flight offers a symbolic bridge between the trauma and confusion of the casualty station and the considered, long-term process of rehabilitation in the civilian healthcare system.

Theatre is a simulation of a simulation: a reconstruction of the last day of training for medical evacuation crews before they are deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. It offers a rare glimpse of what is hidden from the public eye.

I visited this work at the Wellcome Trust  and have never forgotten my experience of it.

 I will look at more of his work particularly wrt to his use of programming.

One of Cotterrell’s central concerns is that of ‘intersection’ and I have recently realised that it is one of mine too

(though mine more specifically relates to past/ present intersection with respect to location and action.)

 This description is taken from the biography on his website

‘Encapsulating the roles of programmer, producer and director, Cotterrell works to develop projects that can embrace the quiet spaces that are the sites for action, which might (or might not) be clearly understood in the future.’