Looking For An Icon



First Run/Icarus Films

NEW YORK -- This brief documentary from Dutch filmmakers Hans Pool and Maaik Krijgsman is like a mini-academic course in photojournalism. Detailing the backstories behind four iconic photographs, all of them World Press Photo contest winners, "Looking for an Icon" will be of great interest to history as well as media buffs. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Film Forum.

The four famed photos under discussion probably are familiar to most viewers. They include the shooting of a Viet Cong guerrilla by a South Vietnamese police chief (1968); the final photo of a slightly ridiculous looking Salvador Allende, taken during the 1973 coup; the unknown Chinese protester single-handedly facing down a tank in Tiananmen Square (1989); and a moving portrait of a soldier grieving for his dead friend during the first Gulf War (1991).

Among those discussing the epochal pictures are some of the photographers who shot them as well as comments from photojournalists, editors, professors and others who provide historical and cultural context.

Running less than an hour, the film doesn't wear out its welcome. Indeed, it whets the appetite for more, with the idea seeming a natural fit for a docu series on an appropriate cable channel.

For this engagement, the feature was cannily paired with "The Day You Love Me," a powerful short film by Leandro Katz centering on the famous photo of the corpse of Che Guevara, his eyes hauntingly open, surrounded by Bolivian soldiers.

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