Via the Wellcome Collection
For our Day of the Dead event last year, we commissioned a short documentary exploring the tradition of ‘Dia de los Muertos’. Filmmaker Betty Martins reflects on the relationship between truth, memory and representation.
What I find very interesting in making films such as this one is the relationships that are initiated during the production process. The research, meeting the participants, the interviews and the editing is all about working on those relationships and that network-specific knowledge that we gain from this process, which is reflected in the direction that the work takes on until its final production.
This project is the exercise and the documentation of people’s personal memories, and we shot over one hour of footage for each interview. When watching the unedited video again and again you feel like you’ve been immersed into their memories. And while you are imagining their past through their remembrances, trying to make sense of a narrative while editing carefully each piece, you are also kind of re-assembling those memories. You then develop a relationship of affection. And that’s how the final work becomes a result of the work of those relationships. It is naive to think a documentary is 100% honest to the actual facts, especially if your work is based on people’s memories. If you consider that even one’s individual memory is already a reconstruction of the actual facts, we can understand that the narratives and its representations are relational. That’s what happens with projects such as this one, and it is in these complexities that, from my point of view, there is an artistic value.
Betty Martins is a filmmaker and educator. Find out more about her work at www.d-aep.org.
Neanderthal (Discovery Channel)
This revealing two-part drama documentary combined the latest scientific research with a stunning mixture of drama and cutting edge 3D animation to reconstruct the lives of these remarkable early humans. In the second part, the advanced Cro-Magnons arrive and a new Ice Age is dawning.
Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals coexisted on Earth until competition drove one of them to extinction. This program, set in the southwest of France 35,000 years ago, uses re-creations of cinematic proportions to reconstruct life in the Neanderthal world at the time Cro-Magnons first entered the scene.
All aspects of Neanderthal clan life are examined, including tool- and weapon-making, hunting and gathering, health and healing, childbirth, rituals, and making fire. Footage of skeletal remains and the scholarly research of eminent palaeontologist Chris Stringer and Oxford University’s Paul Pettitt support the documentary.
(Source: youtube.com, via theolduvaigorge)
A man who died from a terminal illness has been mummified like an Egyptian pharaoh for a Channel 4 show.
The broadcaster looks set to find itself at the centre of another taste row after agreeing to air the macabre documentary, Mummifying Alan.
Sources say the dead man, from the West Country, had a keen interest in preservation techniques used at the time of Tutankhamun.
He is not expected to be identified until next week when his family will explain why he agreed to be part of the show.
The programme will make television history when it airs on Monday, October 24, as a scientific embalming experiment is unprecedented.
A team of pioneering scientists were brought together to perform the little-known technique used by the ancient embalmers at one of the UK’s leading pathology laboratories.
It is understood the man’s body remained in excellent condition when it was examined months after the experiment.
The Daily Fail (sorry, Mail!) is, of course, up in arms about this documentary. I, however, am fascinated and look forward to seeing it. What do you think? Has TV gone too far this time?
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