Bending the Light

Synopsis: From acclaimed director Michael Apted (The Up Series, Master of Sex, The World is Not Enough) comes a revealing look at the art of filmmaking and photography. A journey of glass, the documentary explores the relationship between the artisans who create camera lenses and the masters of light who use these lenses to capture their beloved art form.
Director(s): Michael Apted
60 min

(peaceful music)

- [Voiceover] My job is to make the lens.

It's the heart of the camera.

- [Voiceover] Do you take photographs?

- [Voiceover] Well, I have a child,

so I take lots of photographs of her.

- [Voiceover] Are there

any old pictures of you

that mean a lot?

- Yes.

I think it was probably taken

when I was in kindergarten.

I was in front of the gate

pole at my neighbor's house

that looks like a fence.

My feet got stuck between the fence

and I have a troubled expression.

This photo capture that moment very well.

- [Voiceover] Why are photos important?

- When I look at them later

on, I begin to reminisce.

I think that's very

important for individuals

and a society as well.

(background chatter)

- [Voiceover] Photography is

something that I do because

I'm looking for something

to understand about myself.

In Egypt, that very much is there.

- [Voiceover] Politics

seems to be at the heart

of your work.

- My grandfather was an

avid newspaper reader.

So I grew up kind of around

that and around my family

discussing politics on a

daily basis and you know,

their dreams and their

ambitions for the country.

I wanna understand my country.

I wanna understand where

I fall in that country.

Egyptians have always been

really really sentimental people.

They always love to talk about the past.

(exotic rhythmic music)

This is the essence of an idea

that I'm trying to do now.

It's a story about how

an entire population of

more than 85-million people

have always been struggling

to do something with their lives.

You know, really simple things

like have dignity and respect

and I think this is what has

always been lacking in Egypt

and this is why the revolution happened.

- [Voiceover] Is it just politics?

- [Laura] It's a social story

and it's a very human story

in its essence.

This is where the overlap of

politics and just an interest

in that comes from.

- [Voiceover] You seem

to spend a lot of time

away from the action, shooting faces.

- I want people in Egypt

to see the people of Egypt.

This is very important for me.

This is what I really care about.

(camera clicks)

(camera clicks)

(camera clicks)

(camera clicks)

(camera clicks)

(camera clicks)

My equipment is in that bag.

It's modest but it gets the job done.

So this is my living and working space.

So we're pretty much, you

know, I cook here and then

I work here and this is my magnetic wall

where I do my editing.

What I wanna say is something about

alienation and solitude

and feelings of people

trying to belong and feelings

of people that are abandoned

by a government or a

system and broken dreams

after the revolution.

It's about families who lost

somebody that was killed

or shot by police.

This is Reda when he was about 17.

He's been completely

blinded because he was shot

by police just off of Tahrir Square.

All he remembers is that

he looked up and he saw

a police officer and suddenly

he was thrust backwards.

He hasn't seen anything since.

He's 19 and pretty young but

he was engaged to be married

and his life has completely changed now.

She lost her son during

the revolution and she was

one of the people who were protesting

outside the trial for Mubarak

hoping that she would see

justice for her son's killers.

- [Voiceover] How did

you get into photography?

- I worked in America for

about 3-and-a-half years

as a newspaper photographer

doing everything that you do.

I was doing things that

were not very newspapery.

I didn't know I was pushing it

but my photo editor would say

"Laura, the readers are not

gonna understand your pictures.

"People don't get this, this

is not what the work is about."

So I eventually quit because

I felt like I wanted to just

explore what else I could do visually

and I didn't really like

being told what to do

and how to do it.

- [Voiceover] What do you

look for in a picture?

- Really, with my work, I think emotion is

very very important.

Where I'm looking for things that move me

and hopefully when people look at them

they can be moved by it as well.

I started doing a project

when I came to London

that was basically just street photography

and it was really sort of therapy for me.

When I come to London, I can

completely just disappear,

and I really like that, I like

the fact that you can be free

and yeah, it really

totally keeps me balanced.

- [Voiceover] What's your

relationship with your camera?

- My relationship with my

camera, this is a good question

because I don't really

think about it much but,

I think my camera's my companion in a way.

My camera allows me, it gives

me the excuse to go to places

that I may not go to if

I didn't have my camera.

So it's a really intimate,

important relationship for me.

I even sometimes protect it more than

maybe I protect myself.

- [Voiceover] Do you plan out your work?

- [Laura] I spend a lot of

time on individual situations.

Like I might find a

street corner or you know,

a particular situation

where I stay for an hour,

two hours, three hours,

however it develops.

(peaceful atmospheric music)

- [Voiceover] Can it get dangerous?

- [Laura] Sometimes it can

be dangerous on many levels.

I think I have become incredibly paranoid

about being a photographer

and also about being a

woman photographer because I

usually go out and work alone.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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