The reportages assigned to the Magnum photography agency and the photographers' own projects continue to mark our image of the world and our collective memory. The Magnum founders Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David "Chim" Seymour cast an uncompromising gaze on the events of the world whilst keeping control over the copyright and usage of their work.
"A community of thought"
Henri Cartier-Bresson once described the Magnum spirit: “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on, and a desire to transcribe it visually.” Whilst the Magnum photographers are counted amongst the most famous in their profession, the fact that many of them also worked with the film camera is less known. On the occasion of Magnum’s 60th anniversary, the Berlinale ventures to fill this knowledge gap with the film series "Magnum in Motion: Photographers and the moving image".
In cooperation with Magnum Photos, more than 30 films by and about Magnum photographers have been selected. It will be the first time that the showcase will be presented to the public in this form. Following the Berlinale, it will be presented at other film festivals. The earliest film in the series was made in 1938, while the most recent will be finished just in time for the Berlinale where it will be presented as a world premiere. "Magnum in Motion" was curated by the New York based journalist Alrun Steinrück. The following photographers and filmmakers are expected to attend the Berlinale as special guests: René Burri, Raymond Depardon, Elliott Erwitt, Martine Franck, Jean Gaumy, Bruce Gilden, Philip Jones Griffiths, Thomas Hoepker, David Hurn, Susan Meiselas, Chris Steele-Perkins, Dennis Stock and Donovan Wylie as well as Stuart Franklin, the president of Magnum Photos. An exhibition of Magnum photography about Berlin at the Camera Work Gallery will compliment the special programme.
We discussed this extraordinary showcase with curator Alrun Steinrück, Dominique Green, director of Magnum/London, and writer and photographer Gerry Badger, editor of the publication that will accompany the series.
How many Magnum photographers have made films? Did any of them change their profession completely by becoming a film director?
More than a third have worked on film. No one has changed profession, but Raymond Depardon could be described as having two professions, whilst Henri Cartier Bresson, Jean Gaumy, Susan Meiselas, Rene Burri, Donovan Wylie (to name but a few) might consider their film and photography work as two aspects of the same profession. It is also interesting to speculate about Robert Capa, had he lived, would he have ‘switched’ to a career in Cinema? The Berlinale series gives a unique opportunity for the public to ask questions like these to the photographers themselves, as so many will be present after the screenings of their films.