Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Films I'm Watching

About two weeks back, I got to watch a brilliant film, Alexander Sokurov's "The Russian Ark". It's brilliant on many levels, though the way it was made stands out: The director shot the whole film in a single shot of about 90 minutes. The film is about Russian history and culture, and showcases the Hermitage Museum in Russia to the world. In the different rooms of the museum, the director staged instances from 300 years of Russian History, and the steady camera operator moved from one room to another, where actors performed their parts. In the film, an invisible time traveler guides us through each of the rooms, accompanied by a French diplomat who had toured Russia at one time in the past.

To think that the film was pulled off in spite of these: the film had to be shot in one take as mentioned and since the museum could permit them only that single day when it would be shot there was little time for multiple tries, the steady camera operator was German, and a translator had to mediate between the director and him, 3000 actors performed their parts in the film, all original artifacts from the museum were used in the film and their safety had to be ensured, a minor acting error on the part of any of the actors or the steady camera operator would have ruined the film. Unbelievable.

The film was shot in the third take, the first two times the shooting having failed after about 10 minutes. Watching the film made me very hopeful, that you could pull off just about anything. The costumes on each of the actors were gorgeous, the acting splendid. Watching the film, I have become more interested in Eastern European cinema, my favourite director is Kryzstof Kieslowski, I love his "Blind Chance". This week I could get hold of a DVD box set of his films from our Library, I just finished "Camera Buff" and "A short story about Love", both have simple stories but such intimate portrayal filled with drama. The latter film inspired a Hindi film called "Ek Choti si love story" that became a scandal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The amateur photojournalist

I have here the photographs of my first two published photographs, to try to recreate my feeling when I first saw them in the newspaper.

The first one: The main page!

The second one: Okay, I can do this!

I just finished my third photojournalism assignment, shooting at the Latino Culture Center's "Day of the Dead", a celebration to honor the dead. You can see the published photo here . It was the first time I was shooting people in the intimate: the first assignment I was shooting at the bus stop hidden from the people, the second assignment was about shooting a book, "Hoosier Heart".

I was apprehensive, as I was going to be shooting indoors at night, and I needed to get the exposure right besides getting closer to the people. I think cameras can help people overcome their shyness, as you have to get closer to the subjects you need to shoot, when they're people. Well, of course you could do it like you were observing a laboratory cockroach, detached, but that wouldn't get you the best photographs.

I think for me the exercise is proving worthy, I get free photography advice, I get paid for my published photographs, and I get to experience new situations and meet new people. Of course, my method is still coarse, I don't yet involve people in conversations, and that should be the next improvement.

Who Am I ?

Look Who's playing the fool.

Indiana Jones tries his hand at Beer Pong, thanks to his partner who can drink all the beer.

Pictures from a Halloween party. It was a surprise that I was doing it, because it's not what people would expect of me, or so I guess. If you also found it surprising, wait till you hear this: the day before, I was dancing. Dancing in a bar. Well, I wasn't drunk but I was dancing to music being played by a band called Polka Boys. Maybe it wasn't so much Dance as it was a shake of the legs. I was accompanying my friends, and it seemed odd that I was in a bar, with nothing to do as I don't drink, folding my hands and staring at the band. Eventually as each one of my friends swayed and began dancing to the music, I had to yield to the pressure. I had to find something to do after all.

You can see, characteristic of the people of my personality type, I am trying to defend myself. I don't consider dancing as bad or anything, but I never thought I'd be able to do it. I guess each of us holds a certain image of ourselves that is very difficult to even imagine being changed.

Change is inevitable, though, as they say. Being in a new situation like being in a different country presents an opportunity for change. You are no longer tied to your image, except by your own self, since there're a new set of people and a new set of circumstances. Nobody knows who you are like, so you could fake an entirely new personality, if you have enough courage.

I am still the person most people have known me as though!

Halloween Fun

Pumpkin Carving: mine! mine!

Jack 'O Lantern: Pretty neat, no ?

The rest!