I've always admired the photography of Sebastiao Selgado, who combines a committed social conscience with an eye for the dramatic or stunning photographic composition. He's responsible for many iconic and memorable photos from his work documenting the workers in the Brazilian goldmines to his photos of refugees and victims of famine across the world.
This film follows his career, lingering on many of his photos. This tends to make parts of the film quite static, but the photos are well worth lingering over and the voice-over from Selgado himself and from director Wim Wenders is consistently insightful.
As might be expected, from documenting so much of the world's worst conflict situations, Selgado faced burnout after completing his great work Exodus (documenting refugees). He and his wife Lelia (who acts as his agent and curator) found solace in Selgado's family farm in Brazil. This land had once been pristine rainforest but Selgado's grandfather and father had made a fortune from selling the trees and the land had become a barren wasteland. Leila had the idea of recreating the rainforest and 2 million trees later that's just what they've done! The land is now once again rainforest and is a nature reserve and the basis of the Instituto Terra.
This was not only inspiring in itself but gave the impetus for Selgado to take on his next large photographic project, Genesis, which documents wilderness areas of the world and indigenous peoples who live in harmony with the land.
This is an excellent film, though very harrowing in parts, with many images of extreme human suffering.
Salt of the Earth is showing at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh until Monday 27 July.