In many ways, it’s documentary films which prove there are still plenty of stories to tell in the world and plenty of ways to depict them. This particular documentary seems at first glance to be rather slight — watching as a family arrive in an arid desert and, before the land is drowned once again during the monsoon season, go through an eight-month cycle of preparing, making and harvesting salt. There is no voiceover or contextualisation (aside from some paragraphs at the end of the film), so as viewers we must rely on what we pick up from what the family say as they’re working and what we see happening. For the first half-hour or so it’s not even clear what exactly is going on, as they seem to be just mucking around in the dirt and mud. However, in a series of landscape tableaux interspersed with close-ups of weather-beaten faces and small domestic scenes, it all builds rather neatly and affectingly, with some breathtaking and beautiful images captured on film. The measured structure allows us to slowly get a sense of the sheer physical extent of these salt beds, and the exhausting work required to make and harvest such a seemingly plentiful and ubiquitous product.
NEW RELEASE FILM REVIEW
Director/Writer Farida Pacha | Cinematographer Lutz Konermann | Length 92 minutes || Seen at ICA, London, Sunday 22 March 2015