Some of the most indelible, haunting and strangely beautiful images produced are by photographers representing combat or conflict. These works often come at great personal cost for the artists who put themselves at the frontline to bring the world images that can and have shaped international action.
Textures of Conflict: Frontline Reportage brings together five stunning documentaries exploring the power of still images and correspondences produced in war zones in a season presented by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
and the Melbourne Writers Festival from Monday 24 August 2015.
Shooting Robert King UNCLASSIFIED 18+
Robert King is one of the most recognised war-zone photographers of his generation. Over 15 years and three major conflicts, this film documents the personal, artistic and professional development of this master of the form, from the very first time he enters an explosive combat zone in Bosnia through to his tours of Chechnya to Iraq.
The transformation of the man from naïve dreamer to hardened professional over this period is as fascinating as the photography itself.
This film is a true diary; it doesnt shy away from the most personal of details as King grapples with the very real internal struggles of directly facing the most intense situations armed with no more than a camera. Its clear from the films opening moments that King exists on a plane where danger is the only constant.
Like the photography itself, the documentary has many layers on one hand its about the horror of conflict, while on the other its a deeply intimate journey about the emotional and intellectual development of a human being. Its fascinating to watch from both perspectives as they both spiral out of control.
What Shooting Robert King ultimately presents, however, is the cost of war to the individual, the nation and the world.
This fascinating account of the unheralded heroes of international conflict - the journos, photographers and cameramen - succeeds for exactly the same reasons as the best reportage: by focusing on just one story, it somehow tells many more... Parry's film surveys the wreckage and finds in King a fearless, fascinating, flawed figure, and tells his story with the sort of gallows wit that only comes through living cheek by jowl with death. - Channel 4, UK
McCullin UNCLASSIFIED 18+
Jacqui and David Morris' BAFTA-nominated documentary charts the extraordinary career of British photographer Don McCullin, whose collected works Susan Sontag called "the photography of conscience."
The photographs themselves are wonderful in their deep textures, haunting scenarios and beautiful compositions. Combined with stories from McCullins extraordinary life, they create a documentary thats conducive to repeat viewings.
Raised in working class London, McCullin learned photography during his RAF national service. His break into newspapers came when he photographed gang members in his Finsbury Park neighbourhood.
Coming into adulthood at a time of enormous political and social change, McCullin threw himself headlong into the action, documenting the rise of the Berlin Wall and decades of humanitarian crises and wars from the Congo to Northern Ireland.
His work bloomed in the 1960s. In between conflict zones, McCullin captured beachside eccentrics on English piers, the homeless in London's East End and the haunting images of Maryon Park for Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 Blow-Up.
However, it is his tenure with The Sunday Times Magazine that best represents McCullin's artistry, and one that has left an extraordinary legacy for photo-journalism. But he confesses, "my darkroom is a haunted place."
McCullin is an unforgettable portrait of a great photographer and a startling cinematic mirror on humanity itself.
"McCullin is an inspiring, powerful documentary about the great photographer which also turns into a lament for professional photo-journalism." - The Times
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat UNCLASSIFIED 18+
Combat newsman Jon Steele once said, You never feel as alive as when youre staring death in the face.
Only two journalists were killed covering WW1, but almost 900 have been killed in the past two decades. Today, death, injury, capture and execution are common place for war-zone journalists and photographers, as well as the enormous pressure, fear and stress that come with them.
This powerhouse film goes all the way and beyond in its exploration of the mindset of the combat photographer and correspondent.
Although the correspondents are interviewed to camera sometimes very uncomfortably its the images themselves that do the talking and that continue to do so well after the films conclusion.
Its often with great difficulty that these reporters recount many of their experiences and indeed its often difficult for audiences also. These stories and images demand to be seen, however, so that new perspectives and understandings of war and conflict can be formed.
This film is a shattering experience for all concerned as these journalists try to balance the world they know against worlds being torn apart by war of the most terrible kind. Saying goodbye to family members and being almost immediately thrust into a life and death situation not surprisingly leads to the most personal revelations.
These correspondents who are also mothers and wives, husbands and fathers discuss their experiences in war zones around the world including Afghanistan, El Salvador, the Congo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon.
Under Fire: Journalists in Combat is deeply moving, utterly harrowing and wholly enlightening.
After watching Under Fire you will never look at another war photograph or video without thinking about the journalist behind it." - Huffington Post
War Photographer PG
American war photographer James Nachtwey once said, "Every minute I was there, I wanted to flee. I did not want to see this. Would I cut and run, or would I deal with the responsibility of being there with a camera?"
A true artist considered by many to be the best war photographer ever, Nachtwey is the subject of this stunning documentary that puts us as close to the centre of his mind as we can get. His fine work and career are discussed to camera by some of journalisms great practitioners.
Nachtweys style is instantly recognisable; where his images lack beauty, there lies a deep, deep resonance. While its difficult to look at his work, its almost impossible to take your eyes off any individual piece. The photographs are filled with a detail and clarity that is mesmerising, a simplicity reflected in the artists words and approach which are explored in this remarkable film.
Along with interviews from Nachtwey we hear from CNNs Christiane Amanpour, Stern magazines Hans-Hermann Klare, Geo Saison magazines Christiane Breustedt and Reuters cameraman Des Wright. Along with the stunning images of conflicts from around the world, we come close to understanding the personal toll and philosophy required to deal with the most confronting truths.
Oscar© nominee - Best Documentary
Nachtwey clears the cynicism right out of you. He makes you realize that deep inside righteousness can be found a tough beauty. New York magazine
The Salt of the Earth M
Considered by many as one of 2014s best films, this fascinating documentary tells the sprawling story of the inter-continental work of famed photographer Sebastião Salgado.
While his photographs have captured some of the most important moments of conflict and disaster in the last 40 years, for Salgado, a new journey of discovery is beginning as he turns his eye to documenting the worlds flora, fauna and landscapes.
Directed by Wim Wenders, who was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 2015 Berlinale, The Salt of the Earth has garnered an enormous level of international acclaim, becoming a film festival staple through 2014, finding itself in Oscar© contention and winning the Special Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
Salgados work captures intense moments of conflict, disaster and exodus. Like many of his comrades who are thrust into locations where a thin line separates life and death, there is great personal sacrifice.
Its through his photographs that we see the real impact as Salgado channels the intensity of each situation into some of the most stunning images youll see on screen. Imbued with great poetry and fine detail its the way in which Salgado transfers the high drama of the human condition to that of the natural world that proves most fascinating. What he captures in these explorations is, quite simply, breathtaking in drama and profound in scale.
The Salt of the Earth is unmissable and unforgettable.