the lazy news media, the sight of damaged photographs randomly scattered by the
Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami merely functioned as convenient visual shorthand
for the enormity of it all. However,
some Japanese photographers and volunteers recognized in them an opportunity to
serve and comfort instead. Nathanael
Carton documents the efforts of Project Salvage Memory to find, restore, and
return lost family photos in the short film Recollections
screens this Thursday at the San Francisco International Film Festival,
following hard on the heels of its run at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
images say it all. The scarred
remembrances of once vibrant family lives are heartbreaking to behold. Carton nimbly walks a fine line, capturing
their devastating emotional resonance without feeling ghoulishly exploitative. Indeed, the real heart of the film involves the
(primarily young) volunteers who set out to console those grieving loved
ones. It might have started as a simple
gesture, but the Project has since recovered over 75,000 photos.
the restitution process has tremendous significance for the survivors. Obviously, the photographs facilitate
closure, particularly as the focal point for funerals and subsequent memorial
services. Yet not surprisingly, the Project founder Carton interviews is
unflaggingly modest when speaking of his work.
At just under thirteen minutes, Recollections is an informative but
moving quietly film. Highly recommended,
Carton’s acutely sensitive documentary was one of the best shorts at this year’s
Tribeca. For those in the Bay Area, it also
screens this Thursday (5/2) as part of the Shorts
1 programming block at the 2013 SFIFF.
Labels: Documentary, Project Salvage Memory, SFIFF '13, Short Films