M FILM – A heart in focus

Visually rich and emotionally powerful, the award winning Salt of the Earth.

It’s been a golden age for documentaries for some years now, but few are as visually rich and emotionally powerful as the award winning Salt of the Earth. Co-directed by celebrated German filmmaker Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) in company with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, this is a moving tribute to the art and life of Sebastião Salgado, the Brazilian-born photographer whose profound black-and-white images of everything from Ethiopian famine victims to the horrors of Rwanda have borne witness to the most acute human misery of the last several decades.

A leftist as a young man, Salgado fled Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship and initially pursued a career in economics. Further politicized by the poverty he saw while travelling on business in Africa, this amateur shutterbug made the risky move to professional photographer in his 30s. Part artist and part adventurer, he found himself leaving his wife and family for long stretches as he travelled from Papua, New Guinea to the remotest areas of South America. Empathetic and curious, Salgado was able to forge human connections with indigenous peoples, all the while transforming their harsh lives into stunning images. From Hieronymus Bosch-like scenes of thousands of Brazilian open-pit gold miners toiling like ants to the corpse-strewn tableaux of the Bosnian genocide, Salgado challenged the world with unforgettable photos from the world’s darkest places.

The arc of his journey as a man and an artist is elegantly conveyed in Salt, which shows selected photos while Salgado reminisces about when and how they were shot and what they meant to him. There is also current footage to complement the photos, with Wenders working in black and white while the colour footage was shot by Salgado’s eldest son, Juliano. Many of the images – of dead famine victims being washed by family members before burial, or a church transformed into a charnel house in Rwanda – are heartbreaking to watch. And Salgado speaks candidly about how his soul was nearly destroyed by all the horrors he felt obliged to chronicle. “We humans are terrible animals … our history is a history of war,” he laments at one point. But Salgado was able to fashion a happy ending for himself – and the audience – via a recent eight-year photography project celebrating the ecology of the planet and its possibility for renewal.

The Oscar-nominated Salt was beaten by Citizenfour, presumably for political considerations. But judged on artistic merit, the haunting and inspiring Salt is by far the better film.

the Salt of the earth ****

Directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. At UVic’s Cinecenta from May 3-9.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach has temporarily closed its doors to the public as of Nov.18. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach closes until 2021

TOSH takes proactive approach to ‘protect the well-being of the community’

Edie Daponte and Joey Smith share the stage Saturday at the Sid Williams Theatre. The show is also being livestreamed. Photo supplied
Edie Daponte brings show up-Island

Second World War tribute live and livestreamed in Courtenay and Campbell River

Most Read