Somewhere to Disappear

/ Wednesday, May 11, 2011 /

On Monday I went to see the screening of Somewhere to Disappear. The film is about Alec Soth, a well-known photographer and one who I very much admire.
Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove, two young filmmakers from Europe, followed Soth for two years in his search for men who have turned away from society (and also to find a cave). After the film followed a Q&A by Chris Boot from Aperture.

Personally I enjoyed the film. Although the use of music was too heavy sometimes, the movie was easy to watch and gave me ideas to think and write about. I thought it was interesting to see how Soth works with his subjects and Flammarion and Uyttenhove gave room for the characters to get some depth. One thing that came forward that was very interesting to me, was that Soth spoke about the need for human connection. We see people that feel a strong disconnection and suspicion of modern-day society.  They have often had hard lives. And even though they willfully detach themselves, they miss the attention that comes from others. A lot of people enjoy the attention a photographer gives them.
A lot of people are lonely.

Still, each man he finds is interesting enough to make a documentary about, and I felt the need to hear and see more about them. Besides that, it was hard to escape the stereotyped runaway like the skinhead with a Nazi-symbol tattooed on his arm, or the hermit that is convinced the government is after him.
What also wasn’t shown were the pictures Soth made during the trip. Although I could do without them, I can imagine they could’ve made the film stronger and the scenes more visually accessible, especially for those who aren’t familiar with Soth’s work.

In the end, I definitely think the film is worth watching. Soth makes some interesting comments and I could identify with his search for the runaways, and his personal longing to disappear. 
But one of the most important things for me was that it shows his own vulnerability, as a person and as a photographer. Sometimes the search for something worthwhile can be a lonely one. 
And Alec Soth needed people around him just as much as the subjects he took pictures of.


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