Spotlight: Highlights From June

By David Schonauer   Wednesday July 11, 2018

Joao Canziani fell in love with India on a road trip through Rajasthan.

The New York-based photographer went there on assignment for Afar magazine, but besides shooting stills for the magazine, he also wanted to work on a personal project. The result of his trip was the short documentary Pehelwani, which we featured in June. Canziani’s film focuses on a group of young men that practice the ancient art of pehelwan, or mud wrestling.

"I was becoming obsessed with motion at the time," Canziani told us, adding that the experience was “a big and humbling learning curve.”

Today we include Canziani’s film in a roundup of highlights from June, along with photojournalist and filmmaker Tom Laffay’s short documentary They’re Killing Us, which looks at the widespread murder of social leaders and community organizers in Colombia — assassinations being carried out with impunity.

Among the other motion work we featured last month: a breathtaking 12K flyover of New York City, and two separate trips to Norilsk, Russia, where wintertime temperatures can drop to minus-55 degrees. But the cold isn’t the city’s deadliest claim to fame.

1. Capturing the Spirit of India's Mud Wrestlers

New York-based photographer Joao Canziani went to India to shoot pictures for a travel magazine and came back with two short films, we noted. One was a travelog called Sentinel that captures “the vibrant and colorful characters encountered along the road in Rajasthan,” Canziani noted. The other was a documentary focusing on a group of young men that practice the ancient art of pehelwan, or mud wrestling. “I felt the only way to be was to be transparent with them, and to let them know we were genuinely interested in their lives,” Canziani told us.

2. In Colombia, Murders Without Consequence

One killing every three days. That, Bogota-based photojournalist and filmmaker Tom Laffay told us, is the rate at which social leaders and community organizers are assassinated with impunity in Colombia. Created over the course of a year by Laffay and co-directors  Daniel Bustos  and Emily Wright, the short documentary They’re Killing Us follows local social activists from indigenous communities as they navigate what Laffay calls “the deadly side of Colombia’s peace process.”

3. The Last Day of Sunlight in Norilsk

Norilsk, located above the arctic circle in Siberia, is an industrial city where many of the more than 160,000 residents work for the world’s largest mining and metallurgy complex. Besides being the coldest place in Russia, it’s also the most polluted: The death rate is ten years shorter than in the rest of the county. We featured  this film from British directors James Newton and Edward Edwards, which captures the last day of sunlight before a long winter night descends on the city.

4. Norilsk, My Deadly, Beautiful City

We also featured  Italy-based documentary filmmaker Victoria Fiore’s documentary about Norilsk. Fiore spent two years trying to get access to the city. “It is really impossible to emphasize just how otherworldly this place was,” Fiore told The Atlantic. “[M]ost people, including the city's nuns and head doctors, claim that those from Norilsk have better health. And this is without mentioning that all nature in a radius almost the size of Germany is dead from severe air pollution.”

5. A Field Guide to Losing Your Friends

In 2010, Tyler Dunning’s best friend was killed by terror-related bombings in Kampala, Uganda. The news plunged Dunning into darkness, grief, anger and self-medication. He eventually found solace by exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. Director Chad Clendinen, Dunning’s former roommate, tells his story in A Field Guide to Losing Your Friends.

6. Reeling After a Daughter's Accidental Shooting

“For all the fiery rhetoric that surrounds the topic of gun control in the U.S., Brooklynn, a documentary from filmmaker Charlie Mysak about a couple reeling in aftermath of the accidental shooting of their daughter, is a remarkably restrained film,” noted Short of the Week. Mysak keeps the focus on one family’s grief, not on politics. "News coverage of gun violence only allows the viewers to see a snippet of a person’s life,” he said.

7. The Post-Factual World of "Personal Truth"

The documentary Personal Truth, from filmmaker Charlie Lyne, looks at the events of December 4, 2016, when a man named Edgar Maddison Welch fired a rifle inside a Washington, D.C. pizzeria while acting on alt-right rumors about a child sex ring operated by Hillary Clinton. “I thought it might make for an interesting exploration of why conspiracy theories — even the outlandish ones — are so potent,” noted Lyne at Short of the Week.

8. Bringing Noir LA To Life with Archival Footage

Scottish-born writer Robin Robertson’s narrative poem The Long Take  is set in the now-vanished era of mid-century Los Angeles. To bring the hard-boiled poetry to life, video editor Paul Martinovic pulled together meticulously researched archival footage of the city. “The film was Robertson’s brainchild,” explained Martinovic at Nowness. “As a massive fan of film noir, I jumped at the chance to work on the project with him.”

9. A 12K Flyover of NYC

LA-based director and cinematographer Phil Holland recently joined forces with Gotham Film Works to create a motion project that DP Review called “out-of-this-world.” Holland shot a flyover of New York City using three 8K RED Weapon Monstro VistaVision cameras. The result is a 100-megapixel video made — some 48.5 times the resolution of 1080p.

10. Lost in Malta

From NYC we took a trip to Malta, where we got lost via a new travelog video titled, appropriately, Lost in Malta. It's the latest in a series of “Lost in” videos from The Lost Avacado, a travel and lifestyle blog written by Sara Izzi with videos created by Timur Tugalev. The film, made in collaboration with DJI, features footage stabilized by the DJI Ronin-S gimbal.


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