Travel & Cities
New York, USA
Reel Duration: 11’50
Filmed in a semi-documentary style, New York City comes to life in all its intense drama.
The visual impressions bring to mind Dziga Vertov’s Man with a camera, or Walter Ruttman‘s Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis.
Many iconic Manhattan landmarks are presented, from lower Manhattan to 59th Street.
They include: the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, The Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station, the United Nations, views from Queens and New Jersey and Times Square.
COVID 19 NYC 2020
Sunday March 27th 2020 in NY
New York, USA
Reel Duration: 6’21”
On March 27th New York City has become the epicenter of coronavirus in the U.S with over 47,000 cases.
The pandemic has forced millions of New Yorkers into their homes as local and state government enforce another 30 days stay-at-home order to try and flatten the curve.
What remains is a surreal and eerie state of quiet and calm across a city that is typically unaccustomed to life without the noise and chaos that makes up the very fabric of New York. Now between the intermittent screams of sirens as ambulances rush new patients to overwhelmed hospitals, the only noise one might hear are the sounds of birds singing.
While New York may still be the city that never sleeps, it is also a city that has been subdued, muted and left immobile.
This reel was shot in Times Square on a Sunday afternoon, March 27.
An icy rain was falling; felt like ashes falling from a low dark sky.
April 2020 in NY
New York, USA
Reel Duration: 14’57”
Everywhere, gates lowered. Bar stools stacked upside down.
The boutiques of Soho, the specialty shops of Greenwich Village — for chess, for board games, for records — all locked away and dark. Little Italy’s signature sidewalk tables for alfresco dining had been hauled inside, leaving Mulberry Street just like any other street.
New York City’s new face under coronavirus showed itself under bright, blue skies in the spring of 2020.
It was a shuttered streetscape stripped of commerce and the jangled rhythms of footfalls, honking horns and even people’s voices, a scene that might follow a blizzard, overlaid on a cool spring day.
Some New Yorkers ventured out from isolation, alone or in twos or threes, for a peek around, filling the stillness with their own narrations on a city’s mood.
I was one of them… with a camera.
Storm over Havana
Reel Duration: 5’30”
Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba.
The first part of the reel was shot from and inside the Morro Castle named after the three biblical Magi; Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro.
The Morro Castle is a fortress guarding the entrance to Havana bay in Havana.
In this case, the Spanish “morro” means a rock, which is very visible from the sea and therefore serves as a navigational landmark. The fortress was built in 1589, a stopping point for the treasure-laden Spanish galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.
Reel duration: 5′ 33”
This reel was shot on the Monte Calle street; a famous street for its traffic, architecture and local life.
It is connected to Havana Vieja and Plaza de la Revolucion.
Today, Monte Calle becomes a sort of window where the humblest part of the habanera population lives on.
Score by Charlie Parker (Music rights clearance apply)
Reel Duration: 7’11”
This footage conveys the chaotic, rich and vibrancy of the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta), the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, whether it is in the markets (here the flower market) or in the very busy streets and alleys.
Yet, in this jumble of sounds and visuals, a glance from another time will stop you, will call you, and that maybe conducive to reflection.
As the poet Henry Michaux said: “It is not us who are looking at India but India who is looking at us”. We only reflect.
Reel Duration: 12’05”
Mumbai, (also known as Bombay, the official name until 1995) is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Mumbai has the highest number of billionaires and millionaires among all cities in India.
Home to many communities of fishing colonies, it also has the largest slum in the world: Dharavi, featured in this reel.
Estimates of Dharavi’s total population vary between 700,000 to about 1 million. Dharavi has an active informal economy in which numerous household enterprises employ many of the slum residents. It exports goods around the world. Leather, textiles and pottery products are among the goods made inside Dharavi by the slum residents.
The total annual turnover has been estimated at over US$1 billion. Despite the poverty and the precarity of their living conditions, it is not unusual to see people celebrating their lives, through music and dances in the back alleys.
Reel Duration: 5’21”
Shanghai is the most populous city in China and the most prosper in the world. Like most cities in China, the discrepancy between the rich neighborhoods (mostly business centers) and poor neighborhoods where most of the people live is terrifying as shown in this reel.
There is a dark, stark and threatening atmosphere reminiscent of the new corporate architecture as seen in major capitals of the world, like London and New York.
For complement see Global World in the environment section.
Travel by Train (India)
Travel by Train
Reel Duration: 20’13”
“The train has always been the greatest dramatis persona in screen history. In fact, without trains there would be no cinema.” (Phil De Semleyen).
And India probably provides the greatest spectacle on earth when it comes to humanity in movement.
Here is a sample among hours of footage shot in March 2016 when riding the train across India, from Mumbai to Kolkata.
Travel by Train (Tibet)
Travel by Train to Tibet
Reel Duration: 35’05”
As The Qinghai–Tibet Railway, climbs into thin air across the vast Chang Tang Plateau, (alt: 20,000ft) Tibetan, Uyghurs and Chinese passengers make their way to Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan “Automous” Region. The 1,142 km (710 mi) section between Golmud (Qinghai) and Lhasa was inaugurated in July 2006.
Here is a selection of insights and panoramas taken from the train, in 2009 and 2010; edited with an original score by Jeff Trueman. (Music Rights Clearances apply. High Gravity Sounds.)
These footage were taken while in production for
“High Train to Tibet” (see films section).
This clip is in Homage to Albert Maysles.