Today, the art world and beyond is obsessed with shooting analog. Whether it’s a fashion house seeking to bring a new edge to their creative work, an amateur perusing eBay for the perfect vintage Polaroid, or an influencer attempting to capture a comforting retro aesthetic on social media, analog photography has piqued the interest of people everywhere. Is this resurgence a backlash against digital photography? Is it just a trend perpetuated by our desire for authenticity in an increasingly superficial world? Or is it something else entirely?
Grain: Analog Renaissance is a documentary by Alex Contell and Tommaso Sacconi that explores the stories of those committed to using film in modern day photography.
Martha Cooper is an unexpected icon of the street art movement – a tiny, grey-haired figure running alongside crews of masked graffiti artists.
In the 1970’s, as the boroughs of New York City burned, she worked as a photographer for the New York Post, seeking images of creativity and play where others saw crime and poverty. As a result, she captured some of the first images of New York graffiti, at a time when the city had declared war on this new culture. Martha and her co-author Henry Chalfant compiled these images into the book Subway Art. However, the commercial failure of the book forced Martha to leave graffiti behind, moving on to document many other hidden cultures of New York.
20 years later Martha discovers she has become a legend of the graffiti world – a culture that has now exploded into a global movement. Subway Art became one of the most sold – and stolen – art books of all time, photocopied and shared by graffiti artists for decades.
At 75 years of age, Martha finds herself navigating a culture vastly changed.The small community born from struggle and adversity, has grown into a commercial industry fuelled by the rise of social media. Now every new piece of street art is immediately uploaded, and crowds line up for selfies in front of popular works. Martha struggles to find her place in this new world, driven by a passion for capturing the creativity that helps people rise above their environment.
Finding Fidel tells the remarkable story of war cameraman Erik Durschmied, who in 1958 journeyed to Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains to interview a little-known rebel leader named Fidel Castro. A month later, Castro’s band of fighters rolled into Havana, and the world would never be the same.
Intercutting Durschmeid’s reflections on the lost promise of Castro’s Revolution with his rarely seen interview with the young Fidel, award winning filmmaker Bay Weyman explores the hinge of fate, the vagaries of history, and the power of media in both men’s lives.
Durschmied spent weeks in Castro’s guerrilla headquarters, filming fascinating scenes of camp life with the rebels, and conducting the only known English-language interview with Fidel from the period just before he came to power. The interview is a unique time capsule, vividly depicting Castro’s early views, his struggle against the dictator Batista, and his goals for the Revolution.
“There is no Communism or Marxism in our idea,” Fidel insists. “Our political philosophy is representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”
Finding Fidel follows Durschmied as he returns to Cuba on the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution, retracing his original route to the mountains. Durschmied tells the true story behind his interviews with Fidel, and of the future dictator’s consummate use of the media to control his message and create his image. The daring young cameraman brought Castro’s message to the world just as Havana fell, and as a result his career took off.
Though he has witnessed many of the major events of our times, for Durschmied the interview on a mountaintop in Cuba remains the most meaningful. As he returns to Castro’s camp in the Sierra Maestra, he finds an unexpected touchstone that marks the beginning and end of the journey.