Video Spotlight: Photography on Film
Fashion photographer, Fred Astaire, discovers bookish Audrey Hepburn’s hidden beauty set against the backdrop of Paris. You can tell real fashion photographer Avedon collaborated on this delightful musical production.
Since its release in 1962, Chris Marker’s La Jetée has emerged as one of the foundational texts of postwar European cinema. With its rhythmic editing, nostalgic voiceover and parade of black-and-white images, La Jetée exercises a hypnotic effect on its viewers. This short, experimental ‘photo-roman’ stays with you long after its 29 minutes are over.
In 1966 Brooklyn-born photographer William Klein set the fashion world on its ear with his first feature-length satire, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? With its op-art incursions and high camp fantasies, one critic commented, “Watching it affords a pleasurable sensation, not unlike that induced by flicking through the pages of an expensive magazine.”
John Waters’ film about a budding Baltimore photographer. Pecker (he got the nickname for pecking at his food as a child) photographs the mundane sights of his Baltimore neighborhood: the hamburger joint where he works, rats making love in the alley behind the diner, the oddball characters in his family, and the dancers in the local lesbian strip club.
The movie takes place in the favelas or slums of Rio de Janeiro created to isolate the poor people from the city center. They have grown into places teeming with life, color, music and excitement--and with danger. One of the characters, Rocket, obtains a stolen camera that he treasures and takes pictures from his privileged position as a kid on the streets.
In 1978 Susan Meiselas went to Nicaragua as a photojournalist; she gained the Sandanistas’ trust and recorded their fight against the Somoza regime. A decade later she returned with a film crew and her book of photographs, Nicaragua, and intended to locate the people whom she’d photographed during the revolution. Although Pictures from a revolution concentrates on the subjects of the photographs, the photographer unavoidably becomes part of the story as well.
Iraq-born Maysoon Pachachi's film documents a project in which a group of women refugees from five cities in Iraq living in Syria learn to take photographs and present their lives to each other.
After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark Hogancamp reverted to a childhood impulse and began building a miniature town in his yard. His world is occupied by action figures simulating a World War II Belgian village filled with GIs, Nazis, Brits, vamps, brutes, barmaids, and simulacra of his friends, relatives, and neighbors. Enraptured by his idealized world and the extravagant, ever-changing narrative that goes with it, Hogancamp invested his play-project with a massive amount of detail and thought, and then began photographing the tableaux.
In what was among the most important photographic finds of the twenty-first century, a Mexican filmmaker named Benjamin Tarver discovered a small, tattered suitcase containing some 4,500 negatives taken during the Spanish Civil War by legendary photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David "Chim" Seymour. Trisha Ziff’s documentary ventures beyond the story of the negatives’ journey to explore their significance as historical documents, especially for the men and women exiled during the conflict.
Vivian Maier worked as a nanny in Chicago during the 1950s, caring for the children of several families, preparing meals, taking the kids on jaunts, and doing light housework. Their recollections are of a tall woman, extremely private, playful sometimes but tough, too, and always with a camera around her neck. When filmmaker John Maloof discovered her negatives in a storage container bought at auction, he began to share them on Flickr. Piecing together Maier's life and getting her photography recognized properly by the art world became his mission. This film is Maloofs journey as a detective, following leads and asides, trying to put Maier's photographs into her life's context.
Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris offers what he calls a "family memoir" via historical images of African Americans initially through popular and disturbing stereotypes such as those portrayed in D.W. Griffith's classic 1915 film Birth of a Nation to more realistic and poignant photographs. Using a series of narrative images by African American photographic artists including Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Lorna Simpson, and Gordon Parks, among others, Harris sheds light on a seldom-told aspect of our culture.