The Salt of the Earth
Summer 2015 Documentary series
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 8:00pm
Directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders
Screenplay by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders, David Rosier, and Camille Delafon
Starring Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado
Rated NR · 1h 50m
Twenty-five years ago, director Wim Wenders (Pina, Buena Vista Social Club, Paris Texas) discovered the haunting black and white artworks of celebrated Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Now a 70-year-old man who has traveled to nearly every corner of the Earth for more than 40 years, Salgado has documented some of the most tragic and catastrophic events in recent history: revolutions and international conflicts, genocide in Rwanda, wars in Yugoslavia, starvation in Ethiopia, the Saddam Hussein-devastated Kuwaiti oilfields, mass exoduses around the globe and more. So taken with Salgado’s iconic photos—striking works often bearing witness to the poor, the suffering and neglected members of society—Wenders bought two prints and promptly framed them above his office desk where they remain to this day.
But the more Salgado’s ghostly photos preoccupied Wenders’ heart and psyche, the more the venerable German filmmaker felt compelled to understand the man who took them. Eventually Wenders would come to not only befriend Salgado, but with The Salt Of The Earth, shot by Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Hugo Barbier (Pina), he offers a deeply moving and insightful portrait of the artist, his camera work and his exceptionally sensitive observations of humanity.
Salgado’s photography expeditions were more pilgrimages than trips. His restless globetrotting found him abandoning his family for months at a time; with campesinos in rural South America, folk artists in Mexico, impoverished cultures all over Africa and remote indigenous people around the world. Wenders’ coup de maître is a two-way mirror contraption where Salgado sits, recounting the often heartbreaking tales behind the image. And what Wenders’ slow-burning and beautiful documentary communicates most ardently is the compassion Salgado extends to his subjects, which is seemingly part of the very texture of each photo. The gorgeous score by musician composer Laurent Petitgand is a standout. Swelling with a low-hum beauty, his music is like an ambient celestial chorus, but one that wisely never tries to drown out the subject. (Based on Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist)
“A stunning visual ode to the photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Wim Wenders’ mastery of the documentary form is again on display in The Salt of the Earth.” (Jay Weissberg, Variety)
“The Salt of the Earth deals with two kinds of journeys the photographer made. The outward one may have literally taken him to the furthest corners of the Earth and resulted in the stunning images the film features, but it is the inward journey that paralleled it that completely holds our attention.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)