Blindsight opens with the statement that a blind man attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2001. It then fades to black...
Blindsight opens with the statement that a blind man attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2001. It then fades to black…
We hear footfalls crunching through snow. A calm yet breathless voice tells us that a large crevice lies ahead. There’s a ladder bridging it. Vitally, it leans to the left.
…our vision is then restored looking straight down between the feet of Erik Weihenmayer into the depths below. It’s a simple trick but an effective one. It also captures something of documentary maker Lucy Walker’s ability to sell an idea. You feel as if you are there.
All of Walker’s feature documentaries are driven by absurdly potent pitches. Amish teenagers going bonkers before they have to settle down; blind children scaling Mount Everest; a community living in the world’s biggest rubbish dump; looming nuclear Armageddon; tsunami survivors. Anybody with any interest in the world couldn’t fail to be captivated by these ideas.
Past the unique selling points, with the exception of Countdown to Zero, all of Walker’s films show communities colliding in some fashion. The best example of this comes in Blindsight again, where in the film proper a group of blind children from Tibet get dragged up Mount Everest by a bunch of mountaineers. The clash between the children’s teacher Sabriye Tenberken and the climber Erik Weihenmayer builds and builds in the background as the risks sink in. Both are blind. (more…)
25 October 2012
It’s silly and barely credible and probably half an idea which simply won’t shift, but water trickles between David Mackenzie’s feature films. It drenches his characters, it drowns some of them, it soothes them, it flows past others, it provides status to a couple of them, and generally gushes out in some fashion or another. Admittedly this might be a specious theme to point out. Anyone making films might conceivably run their camera past some water on a blue planet. Maybe it just rains a lot in Mackenzie’s home country of Scotland. (more…)
Characters in a Ben Hopkins film tend to be shocked. They may not realise it but they will. His films hinge upon exchange or trade in an ever changing world. People try to cope with disruption only to realise that something much bigger is going on instead, be it technological, political or otherwise. Typically it crushes them. Having made three longer documentaries and three feature films, Hopkins is a particular example of the transnational filmmaker travelling the world much like Michael Winterbottom, Alejandro González Iñárritu or Werner Herzog; Herzog particularly for telling his stories through both fiction and documentary. More so than these though, Hopkins seems fascinated with national borders and people frittering through and around them. (more…)
Somewhere between talent and beyond lie many of Asif Kapadia’s characters. Each of his features to date explore characters whose skills lead to this place. Accepting that Aryton Senna drove like magic in Kapadia’s documentary Senna may cause some to baulk; accepting that the Brazilian driver put on a great show swallows much easier. (more…)