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Revelando Sebastião Salgado
Sebastiao Salgado is one of the world’s most famous photographers. Born into a large family (seven sisters; he was the only boy) in rural Brazil in 1944, he studied to be an economist at the university of Sao Paolo before moving to Paris in the late sixties to escape the dictatorship. “Becoming a photographer” was accidental for him, as it often the case: at any rate he had no formal training. Sent to central Africa in the early 1970s by his then employers, he took up photography as a kind of hobby to pass the time, immediately discovering that this was where his passion lay.
Betse de Paolo’s pleasingly informal film about the photographer is very much a family affair–almost a home movie. Salgado’s son introduces us into the photographer’s large modern studio apartment in Paris. A tour of the apartment follows, in the course of which we learn about major artistic influences: the Soviet war photographer Baltermants; Tina Modotti; Edward Weston; Cartier-Bresson of course, and others. Beautifully mounted prints of the work of these pioneers hang on his walls, signed, often, by their respective author.
We then move into his own archive, housed in thousands of boxes and cupboards, all meticulously catalogued and indexed. Salgado himself is a courteous and reserved individual; also an excellent talker, regaling the filmmakers with fascinating anecdotes from his career such as the moment when he was accidentally present at Hinkley’s attempted assassination of President Reagan. He intersperses these stories with penetrating disquisitions on technical aspects of his chosen art-form.
The early part of his career drew him mainly to places of conflict. Latterly, in his still on-going Genesis project, Salgado has been more attracted to remote, unpeopled and unspoilt parts of the globe. No photographer in recent years has more selflessly travelled the world in search of beauty and sublimity.
Betse de Paula
Betse de Paula is a Brazilian director and writer. She has directed a number of feature films and short films, including S.O.S. Brunet (1986), for which she won several awards in Brazil, amongst others the honorific title Ambassador of Brasilia. Betse de Paula wrote, produced and directed episodes of the TV series Retratos Brasileiros, Estação Ciência and Imagens da Historìa. She co-directed the animated short-film As Andanças de Nosso Senhor Sobre a Terra (2005), which was awarded by the Brazilian Ministry for Culture.