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USA, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)

Director: Nina Davenport

When photographer Nina Davenport won a scholarship to travel to India she had no intentions of making a film. But just in case, she added an old silent movie camera and a profes­sional walkman to her suitcase of stills cameras. The result is Helio Photo, a diary film of her travels around India over a 12 month period.

Shot in both black and white and colour the film incorporates stills as well as the moving image. Beautifully framed, the film traverses the continent without dialogue or voice over— instead juxtaposing surreal images which form a visual soundscape of the filmmaker's travels.

The title derives from the fact that everytime Davenport pulled out her camera she had a crowd of people staring at her saying "hello photo, hello photo". Instead of shooing them away she cleverly incorporates them into her story. Cows amble in front of traffic and past frame, circus boys perform contortionist acts by the railway tracks, billboards advertise the latest Hindi movies. Sensual carvings from 1000 year old temples, snake charmers, beggars and women collecting water from the well... all become part of the jigsaw puzzle which makes up India.

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