I have now spend the best part of half a day trawling through the website : The Last Days of Shishmaref . In my opinion this project is so strong because of its great depth of meaning that has been layered and layered upon both the still images and the videography, creating hard hitting visually dynamic works that are inevitably wayed down with context that all viewers will understand and engage with. A couple of quotes from the website which to me truly captures the project in words:-
“To filmmaker Jan Louter and photographer Dana Lixenberg, the climate was a backdrop for the histories of people, of a community, of a life in all its paradoxical intricacies. Images of the hunt and of immense seascapes and snow-covered landscapes interact with intimate portraits and scenes from cluttered interiors”.
“The impression it leaves yields more questions than answers: questions about identity, dignity, transience and mortality. What does it mean for an individual, for a culture to be forced to leave the land where their forefathers were born?”.
For me it’s the web documentary which caught my attention for so long. Due to it’s cleaver mash up of interviews, photography stills, sound clips and historical background infromation about Shishmaref in regards to the people living there, the harsh weather conditions and the traditions from past to future, mixed up with the reality of a slowly slipping tradition, into the gradual transition of Americanisation. To view the documentary I am writting about clink on this link: The Web Documentary.
The 95 minute long film about this project which is a documentary about the first victims of global warming. As with the web page above I have selected a number of quotes from the information about the film which explains the broader understanding as to director Jan Louter and cameraman Melle van Essen perspective of the Shishmaref’s people:-
– “Director Jan Louter and cameraman Melle van Essen traveled to the island to record the traditional lifestyle of a community of Inupiaq Eskimos, which is now in jeopardy. Their centuries of tradition will probably be lost forever if they are forced to settle on the mainland”.
– “It paints a visually striking, intimate portrait of an exceptional society that expresses the complex connections between man and his natural environment. The people of Shishmaref are proud and independent, keeping as closely as possible to the traditions that define their lives”.
– “There is no room for superficial sentimentality on the island. Nevertheless, the impending and inevitable farewells have inspired a new awareness of important values and underlying emotions. By portraying these aspects, the documentary touches on universal themes. What do identity, dignity, transience, and mortality mean when the land where your forefathers were born may be lost to you forever?”.
Bellow is the trailer for the documentary film: