Friday, July 18, 2008
MUNCACHEVO--I filmed some surgeries in Ukraine for the first time since Hospital Regional de Occidente in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras a few years ago. I remember when I first filmed and photographed surgery, back at that hospital in 2000, I was very excited and enjoyed the experience very much. It was, and it still is, a great privilege, to watch and to document many talented and dedicated physicians at work. In this case it was Ukrainian orthopedic surgeon Dr. Yuri Demjan. And it brought to mind watching many procedures in Honduras, most memorably those with the brilliant reconstructive work of Columbus, Ohio plastic surgeon Dr. Les Mohler and anesthesiologist Dr. Paul Potter.
But there is somewhat of a limit to enjoying surgery, at least when one isn't actually doing it (and that I wouldn't know although I have always taken great pride in my splinter-removal technique). After a while, at least to the camera, the most fascinating surgery becomes a bunch of masked people, intently clustered around a big blue or green sheet, digging in a small, bloody square of flesh. And pretty much that's it. Often for hours on end. And the next case, no matter how interesting, looks pretty much the same while it's going on. The truly fascinating parts are before and after. Meeting the people, both the doctors and the patients who are about to go under he knife. And then afterwards, seeing them or their relatives and how this procedure has changed their lives.
And that is the true pleasure. Of seeing how the doctors of groups like SARA or CAMO have changed lives by fixing a spine or a cleft lip or any number of other procedures. Of how, most importantly, they have helped train local doctors to keep doing the work day in and day out.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
LUND--I would say that overall the trip was a success. Over the month I was pulled in many different directions and shown a rather vast overview of SARA projects around Transcarpathia. I shot 24 rolls of 36 exposure black and white film, a lot of digital and I haven't counted the tapes yet but they add up to many, many hours. I don't, however, think I have a full-length documentary. There are too many pieces and disparate themes to tie together in that way. Fortunately, however, in speaking with the SARA team, what they want (as I suspected they would) are shorter films. When they are speaking to a group there simply isn't time to do that and to show an hour-long film. So, News From El Salvador, which only mentions SARA in the credits, as it is a stand-alone, film, as straightly journalistic as I could make it, will be something of a prestige project. I will now edit for them a short (10-15 minute) film based on the El Salvador footage and then a similar length film detailing the projects in Ukraine. From there I will make several short, reportage films on different subjects I encountered. The State run mental hospital in the Carpathian mountains, the gypsy settlement outside of Baraczsasz etc. Check back as new galleries will be posted on the website soon and new stories on the blogs, both from Transcarpathia and from life here, back in Sweden.