Monday, April 14, 2008

Errol Morris at AFI Silver Theater, MD

Is it possible for a photograph to change the world?

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing a preview of Errol Morris' new doc about Abu Ghraib prison and the photos that shocked the world. Silverdocs brought esteemed director Errol Morris to the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, MD to present "Standard Operating Procedure."

Following the screening, Morris openly addressed a number of questions from the film itself to his mysterious "Interratron" interviewing machine.
Some quotes:
  • "I also have committed the crime of photography."
  • "I dont see it as just a film about Iraq, or just a film about torture."
  • "The "Interratron" is designed to preserve eye contact... It focus' the attention on the interview itself, rather than the camera apparatus itself, the crew, etc." (he's used it for 15 years and still feels like he's learning about it. The only people who ever object to using it are the ones who need the camera to perform.)
  • "My wife says that even if noone sees the film now, at least it will have a life in the future... maybe after im dead."

As enlightening as the film was, Morris himself expanded on his messages during the Q&A. Currently writing an essay for The New Yorker about Sabrina Harman, the smiling female soldier in the infamous thumbs-up photo, he referenced the Cheshire Cat, whose smile is seen, but not the cat itself. "If not for her photos, the world would have never known..." He sympathetically noted that these young teenage soldiers were victims of many sorts (rank, love, media, etc.), and are now being punished for embarrassing the president, the government, the army, and the US.... They may not have been totally faultless, but they have simply committed the crime of photography. [more clips here]

Following the screening, i had a nice opportunity to chat at the reception w/ Silverdocs programmer Skye Sitney, Silverdocs director Patricia Finneran, Heavy Metal Parking Lot director Jeff Krulik, and Errol Morris himself. Many thanks to Silverdocs for the invite.

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