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The Spectre of Hope

Over the past 30 years Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado's work has won every major award for excellence. More importantly, his photographs have had an actual impact on the world and how it is seen, bringing conditions of famine and poverty to the attention of a jaded first world in a profound and arresting way.

Best known for 'Ways of Seeing,' the seminal book and BBC series on art criticism, John Berger is one of the world's leading critics of art and photography. His 'Selected Essays,' written over nearly 50 years, has just been published (Pantheon Books, 2002).

In THE SPECTRE OF HOPE Sebastião Salgado joins Berger to pore over Salgado's collection 'Migrations.' Six years and 43 countries in the making (ranging across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America), 'Migrations' contains photographs of people pushed from their homes and traditions to cities and their margins - slums and streets and refugee camps.

Sitting at the kitchen table of Berger's home in the Swiss Alps, their intimate conversation, intercut with photographs from 'Migrations,' combines a discussion of Salgado's work with a critique of globalization, and a wide-ranging investigation of the power of the image.

Photo: Young, landless girl Parana, Brazil, 1996 © Sebastião Salgado

'Berger and Salgado aren't afraid to face their subject with absolute seriousness. And what's more, with their uncompromising will to follow form, they have the courage to ask you to do the same.' -Time Out

'THE SPECTRE OF HOPE is both a remarkable conversation between Brazilian economist-photographer Sebastião Salgado and British art critic-novelist John Berger and a stunning portrait (in Salgado's pictures) of what globalization really looks like in Rwanda, Mexico, Mozambique, Sudan and erstwhile Yugoslavia.' -John Leonard, New York Magazine

'Moving, thought-provoking and utterly enthralling. THE SPECTRE OF HOPE proves that it is possible to make gripping television about still black and white photos, and, what is more, to amplify the experience.' -Judith Bumpus, The Art Newspaper

'Poetic... Through close-ups of Salgado's black-and-white images we see with unflinching eyes the plight of displaced peasants, refugees and migrant workers as they move out of their rural homelands and into cities and slums. But as the title suggests, Salgado sees hope - especially evident in his portraits of children - in that the current economic situation is chosen, and therefore changeable.' -Photo District News Online

'Highly Recommended. This powerful documentary is an elegant introduction to the photography and thinking of Sebastiao Salgado. His photography invites us to consider economics in a new way... The film's quietness works on the soul in striking ways. It is a quiet invitation to consider more fully the lives of those who are captured in Salgado's photographs and to commit ourselves to do battle against the conditions which sought to destroy them.' -- Bridges, An Interdisciplinary Journal


Main credits

Carlin, Paul (Director)
Carlin, Paul (Film editor)
Jalfon, Paula (Producer)
MacCabe, Colin (Producer)
Partridge, Jonathan (Cinematographer)
Jones, Dan (Composer)

Other credits

Editor, Paul Carlin; camera, Jonathan Partridge; music, Dan Jones.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Cultural Studies
Media Studies


John Berger; Ways of Seeing; critcism; Sebastiao Salgado; image; images; seeing; imagery; gaze; theory; photographs; pictures; photographers; migration; children; vision; visual; photographic; analysis; power; documentary; film; DVD; "The Spectre of Hope"; Icarus Films; ,doc,art

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