Interesting to see that several films at Sundance were centered around photography.
In 2008 Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and Tim Hetherington dug in with the men of Second Platoon for a year. Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, a stronghold of al Qaeda and the Taliban, has proven to be one of the U.S. Army’s deadliest challenges. It is here that the platoon lost their comrade, PFC Juan Restrepo, and erected an outpost in his honor. Up close and personal, Junger and Hetherington gain extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of backbreaking labor and deadly firefights that are a way of life at Outpost Restrepo.
Ever wonder what it’s really like to be in the trenches of war? Look no further. Restrepo may be one of the most experiential and visceral war films you’ll ever see. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers reveal the humor and camaraderie of men who come under daily fire, never knowing which of them won’t make it home.
Smash His Camera
Paparazzi might be the norm in our celebrity-infested times, haphazardly snapping every movement of the rich and famous. Ron Galella, though, is the original paparazzo. He elevated the celebrity snapshot into art and, at 78, remains a stalwart in the business. Dogged in his quest to photograph celebrities in unguarded moments, he defines his passion for his work by the ups and downs of his career—documenting the parade of stars at a thriving Studio 54 and having the dubious honor of being sued by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (his favorite subject) and having his jaw broken by Marlon Brando.
Leon Gast (When We Were Kings) masterfully profiles Galella and places him at the center of the debate about the First Amendment right to privacy. Galella’s work and tactics have their critics, but his influence is undeniable. In a career defined by perseverance, he has created some of the most lasting, iconic photographs of our times.
When precocious 13-year-old paparazzo Austin Visschedyk snapped a photo of celebrity Adrian Grenier (HBO’s Entourage), little did he know his life was about to change. Turning the tables on the juvenile paparazzo, Grenier stepped on the other side of the lens in an attempt to mentor a teenager obsessed with the lure of the Hollywood lifestyle. Grenier develops a meaningful relationship with his camera-clicking young friend as he attempts to reconcile their mutual exploitation. Indeed, Grenier puts himself on the line here, trying to make sense of his own recently acquired fame.
Given the success of Entourage and its place in the Zeitgeist, Adrian Grenier is the perfect person to explore our preoccupation with celebrity and the adolescent desire for fame. Exquisitely layered, Teenage Paparazzo moves beyond personal documentary, charting a cultural revolution of celebrity obsession that may have been born in the United States but stretches across the globe.
Nev, a 24-year-old New York–based photographer, has no idea what he’s in for when Abby, an eight-year-old girl from rural Michigan, contacts him on MySpace, seeking permission to paint one of his photographs. When he receives her remarkable painting, Nev begins a friendship and correspondence with Abby’s family. But things really get interesting when he develops a cyber-romance with Abby’s attractive older sister, Megan, a musician and model. Prompted by some startling revelations about Megan, Nev and his buddies embark on a road trip in search of the truth.
Catfish centers on a riveting mystery that is completely a product of our times, where social networking, mobile devices, and electronic communication so often replace face-to-face personal contact. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s grounded documentary is a remarkable and powerful story of grace within a labyrinth of online intrigue.
More at Sundance (here).