Photo- Leila Salgado:Amazonas:Sony Pictures Classics
Photo- Leila Salgado:Amazonas:Sony Pictures Classics
  • Ligia Braslauskas

É the strength of the name of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado is undeniable. Among the greats of world photography, he is a master in the art of building dense narratives throughof a fascinating play of lights and shadows. Not by chance, his work and life are portrayed in the cinematographic production The Salt of the Earth. Presented at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Special Jury Prize in the section A Certain Look, and was elected Best Film by the public at the San Sebastián Festival, in Spain. This year, it was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary category. Directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, son of the photographer, and by the German director Wim Wenders, The Salt of the Earth was selected from a universe of 134 enrolled in the academy, but did not take the statuette, which Citizenfour, directed by American Laura Poitras, based on the story of Edward Snowden, the former CIA analyst who leaked confidential and compromising information from the United States government.

It would have been great to win, but it's worth remembering that other productions that put Brazil in the spotlight were also nominated, didn't win and went down in history. In the case, among others, of Central do Brasil (Brazil-France production) and Extraordinary Waste (Brazil-UK). In this edition of the Oscars, the Brazilians indirectly honored were Vivian Aguiar-Buff and Antonio Andrade, who are part of the technical team of Big hero operation, from Disney, winner of the Best Animation category.

The Salt of the Earth, a Brazilian, French and Italian production scheduled to enter the commercial circuit on the 26th of March, tells a little about Salgado's long trajectory and presents the backstage of the ambitious Genesis project, an expedition that began in 2004, with the aim of to record unexplored regions of the planet. Part of the result of this trip, which ended in 2012, is in the eponymous book of the expedition, by the German publisher Taschen.

Em The Salt of the Earth, the two directors recount their involvement with the work of Sebastião Salgado and the photographer himself makes observations about his work. Those who watch the documentary feel a bit on the road, such is the beauty of the images. Wim Wenders, who needs no further introduction, surprises the viewer. The fiction writer who enriched the New German Cinema, a movement that emerged in the early 1960s, talks about the emotional shock he felt when he came across, for the first time, an image made through Sebastião's lens. It was a 1986 photograph of workers from Serra Pelada, in southeastern Pará State, looking for gemstones. This image is part of a series that portrays social issues. As is well known, at the time of registration, Serra Pelada was the scene of a tense context and of great human perplexity.

Also exciting is the participation of Juliano, 41 years old. The son of the man with so many beautiful and rare images, who was born and raised in France, reveals that he did not have a close relationship with his father. The long journeys and absences from home for work caused a distance between the two. In an interview with Brasileiros, Juliano says that he missed his father a lot, despite understanding that there was something special about his work. “I was aware that my father was doing something great that few people can do. I was about 10 years old, when his work started to get more attention, his pictures were on the front pages of French newspapers. Knowing that Tião had found a place for the photograph eased the absence I felt for him. But I harbored a certain resentment, which only changed with the making of the film.”

After a conversation with Wenders, Juliano concluded that he shared the same opinion as his German friend about Sebastião Salgado: more than a great photographer, he owns a particular and precious work, which made him a kind of eyewitness, in the literal sense. of the word, of humanity's recent past. Realizing this dimension was one of the main starting points of The Salt of the Earth. But the turning point that allowed the documentary to be made came when Juliano accompanied his father on an expedition to the indigenous and isolated Zo'é tribe in the northwest region of Pará.

There, Juliano took many photos and videos, and on his way back he made the decision to reveal to his father what he had captured in his lenses. “He was moved by what he saw and it touched our relationship. My father is an image person, he understands these things. That moment opened the door for me to think about this movie, which talks about him. Tião accepted my gaze”, says Juliano to the report by Brasileiros. The film could not be different. Much of Sebastião Salgado's story is told through his photographs, archival and recent images taken during the Genesis expedition, as well as black and white and color footage.

Sebastião Salgado, from Aimorés, was born in 1944. While still young, he went to Vitória, in search of a university degree in Economics, at the Federal University of Espírito Santo. Afterwards, he went to São Paulo, where he took a master's degree, in the same area, at USP. It was on the academic campus that Sebastião Salgado met Lélia Deluiz Wanick, whom he married.

In the 1960s, engaged in political movements against the military regime, they were forced to leave Brazil to live in Paris.

In the French capital, Sebastião Salgado, still in the role of economist, began a promising career at the World Bank. But life takes many turns. Lélia received a camera as a gift that radically changed her husband's life. With this machine, he discovered his new passion. It was such an intense feeling that it made him drop everything to dedicate himself fully to photography.

It's what counts The Salt of the Earth, a documentary featuring an extraordinary selection of footage. It is so plastically exuberant that the soundtrack, signed by French actor and director Laurent Petitgand, is barely noticeable. But it is precisely this union of subtle elements that makes the film rare beauty, a lyrical portrait of a photographer who sees the world with all its complexities, contradictions and poetry.

Read here the complete interview with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

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