Citizenfour (2014, directed by Laura Poitras) won this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It’s not my favourite from the five short-listed films (there were Finding Vivian Maier and Salt of the Earth on the list too, by the way), but I accepted it would win from the very beginning, like some sort of imminent and inevitable fact. None of the other films could surpass the weight of Citizenfour. And yet.
Archive for February, 2015
The Inevitable: Citizenfour Wins the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature but I Would Have Chosen Another
No rocket science. No award winning. Just a couple of street photos from the carnival in Maastricht, to be seen before I lose them.
I just finished an article about Movies That Matter this year and I am so excited to be there, for a couple of reasons, the main being that Nadal El Saadawi will be there for talks, and she appears in The Free Voice of Egypt which will screen at the festival. There are also some other very good films this year and the festival will be 2 days longer than usual. I think I’m one of the first people to see the program this year and believe me, it does sound great!
The festival opens on the 20th with Timbuktu (2014), which is a beautiful story and an Oscar nominated film. Whiiich, reminds me to tell you that Fatoumata Diawara has a concert in Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam on the 6th of March. And if you don’t know her, you should listen to her songs, she’s really great. Here’s a song written by her and composed together with Amine Bouhafa, the composer of Timbuktu’s soundtrack.
The World Press Photo winner last year made me wonder whether the competition is moving towards a new phase, less political, less charged and beautifying drama a bit less. This year’s winning photo confuses me completely. Not because it’s not so political and not so filled with connotations as the previous winners, but because the photo doesn’t speak for itself at all. Without reading a caption and without reading about why it was chosen, it is just an artistic portrayal of two people doing something, not really clear what. The photo is part of a larger project called Homophobia in Russia and I bet that when seen in context it does makes sense. But by itself, it doesn’t say much. Besides this, for the first time in the history of the competition, I look at the winner and don’t even see the ‘press’ in World Press Photo.
This is how I feel these days, only I’m not paving the way for much and at least this chimp went into space. Me. Not. Even. Close.
His name was Ham and this was 1961.
On a totally different note, I don’t have time for any of my long planned ‘complex’ posts. Not. For now.
Meanwhile here’s an article about Ham in Life Magazine.
It’s official: all the good kitsch comes from Russia. Or at least a good part of it. I hope you’ve seen Svetlana Petrova’s cat, Zarathustra, making classical paintings ‘better’. Or Svetlana Novikova’s crazy coloured animal paintings. Well, Elena Eremina photographs her hamsters, in the kitchen, after her husband and child go to sleep. The result is this photo series with a Flemish still life painting air in contrast with these too-cute-to-sweet sentimental scenes. I find this contrast surprising, terrible and lovely at the same time.
Yusuke Sakai got a simple idea, and as usual, the simple ideas are the most touching. For Skins, he photographed just that, the ‘skins’ of different animals, so close you can see the texture, can imagine what it might feel like to touch. It is a somehow peculiar experience to look at these photos, because they make these animals come closer and at the same time become somehow alien. Some I’d like to touch, some I rather not and either way I can already feel on my fingertips the sensation I could have.
I live in the most uneventful place in the world, plain, populated mainly by old people and people with weird habits. On top of that, sometimes, unexpected kitschy things happen, things that gather many people in one place in a wave of excitement. Last weekend, my usually dull and empty writing corner has been taken over by dogs of all sizes, colours and shapes – dog statues that is – and by an army of kids taking photos with two furry characters (sorry for the slightly blurred second photo, it’s just the vibration of the moment captured there. Not). It’s been chaos, I wrote almost nothing, but had a good coffee.
Anyway, I decided that my new mission is to actually try to find interesting things in this place and capture it’s dry but sometimes bitter-sweet, sometimes sad and occasionally trashy feel. I will take more photos in these next months. If the results will be in any way worth seeing, you will know.
On a different note, here’s an art exhibition worth seeing, with a rather prosaic name – 9 Artists from Iran. It’s in Amsterdam until the 21st of February. I haven’t seen it yet, perhaps this weekend.