Magnum tribute putting classic stills 'In Motion'


Magnum photographers have created some of the most memorable images in two generations: James Dean hunched in a jacket on a rain-slicked street; Fidel Castro with a cigar at a jaunty angle; an Afghan girl with haunted blue eyes in a torn red cloak. And Magnum Photos, the longest-running agency owned and operated by its photographer members, has seen to it that these images were distributed in magazines and books all over the world for the past 60 years.

Magnum photographers have also worked in moving pictures, as well as being the subjects of several films.

Bringing that aspect of Magnum to the world's attention is part of the idea behind the special film series "Magnum In Motion" which makes its world premiere at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival before heading on to Thessaloniki and then New York.

"It's an idea that has been in the ether for some time," said Dominique Green, Magnum Photo's Paris bureau chief. "But it all came together over a dinner with Dieter Kosslick at the Hamptons Film Festival in October 2004, a month before I officially joined Magnum."

Green and Kosslick had known each other for years, so the dinner conversation naturally turned to the subject of films made by Magnum members.

"Over the course of the evening, the idea [for a series to show at the Berlinale as part of Magnum's 60th anniversary celebrations] took definitive shape," Green said.

The Berlinale hired a film curator to go through all the films -- about 150 all told, including shorts and film clips -- that had either been co-directed by Magnum photographers or were about their work.

In the end, 33 films were selected. Like the photographers themselves, they covered stories happening everywhere from Cambodia to Peru to Hollywood.

The earliest film, made by Magnum co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson, dates from 1938; the latest, "Misery Loves Company" by Gideon Gold about Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden, will have its world premiere at the festival. Gilden will attend the premiere, and will answer questions from the audience afterward.

Another Magnum photographer accompanying her film to Berlin will be Susan Meiselas, whose work on the insurrection in Nicaragua and afterwards earned her awards from the Overseas Press Club, Leica cameras, Columbia University and the Hasselblad Foundation as well as a MacArthur "Genius Award" Fellowship.

Meiselas' film, "Pictures From a Revolution" (1991), co-directed by Alfred Guzetti and Richard Rogers, shows the photographer's search for the people she had photographed during the 1970s when she spent a decade in Nicaragua. A member of Magnum Photos for more than 30 years, Meiselas' work is typical of the cooperative as a whole -- fiercely personal and intensely political.

"You cannot disregard the importance of Magnum for the visual memory and the history of photography of our times," Dieter Kosslick said. "It is great that we now can present the film works of these wonderful photo reporters and artists to our Berlinale audience."