Workshop Filmed Portrait

Laboratory of the Filmed Portrait

by Marta Andreu, workshop director.

Since 2009, and as part of the annual Play-Doc festival, seven young film-makers from different backgrounds and places have come together in Tui for each to make a film portrait of one of the town´s inhabitants. Each year the same film-makers are reunited with their subjects and live together with them; and both the film-makers and their subjects experience the effect of the passage of time on each other. This year, the laboratory reaches its third edition with the derived-portrait, the aim of which is to continue to build the image of the "other", but on this occasion by filming the relation of the "other" with the persons who surround him, and who share his world. The path we started out on with the portrait-through-encounter, and that we continued in the second edition with the portrait-through-memory, now arrives at a new question: What of each of us can be seen in others? This time the camera will not be pointed at the subject directly but will move around to see and hear how much of the subject resides in others; how much of him others can give us; how much the film-maker can capture of his echo. This latest portrait then is a derived-portrait, it is one more step in the exploration of the peaks and troughs of this basic form of documentary cinema, a form that we set out to test and question when we embarked on this joint venture.

One more year and there is a new challenge for us to take on with the same or, if possible, greater energy now that the links that are established are strong enough to hold us together along the trail of shared experience, accompanied the whole time by the camera. And all this pushes us forwards into the depths of that intense experience that concentrates in one sweep of the artist´s brush both the film-maker´s search and the view through the camera´s eye that unites us, every one of us, with the "other", that is to say with the world.

Laboratory of the Filmed Portrait 2013


Five years have gone by since our laboratory of the filmed portrait began. The journey has taken us from the portrait-through-encounter to the portrait-through-memory, and from there to the portrait-through-others, and beyond that to the portrait-through-landscape. And today we reach the conclusion and the portrait becomes a mirror.

What is there of each one of us in the film portraits that we make? How much of our own gaze is reflected in the eyes of those we look at? To what extent is recounting the lives of others also to talk about our own. This year, as we were saying, we reach the end of the line. Just as everything has a day on which starts, so too one day everything runs its course. But sometimes (if not always) what is met with at the end of a journey is the very thing that justifies our first starting out.

The reason why we began this project has to do with the belief that to look at the one before us is to recognise ourselves in them, because in the end the other is always in front of us, and what the presence of the other always does is remind us of our own presence. That first act by whoever holds a camera in their hand in order to capture what he or she sees is closely connected with the sharing of that vision, and with the discovery of what the other also sees. And in that discovery, one finds oneself and from it all one learns to look at oneself by looking at others.

The participants in the laboratory have each been able to recognise themselves in the others (from both behind and in front of the cameras). They are also recognised by everybody else, that is by us the spectators, through the distinctive signature each participant has left on the whole process. The lives fixed on film that are the result are now before us, and there they continue to be and to live. Today we say goodbye to the experiment with that mirror that will go on speaking about who is looked at, but also about who does the looking. Above all, the mirror speaks of the distance that there has been and that there is (or perhaps equally that there is not) between the observer and the observed. This distance extends inevitably also to those of us close to those moments of encounter and mutual exchange, who have afterwards been placed in front of the resulting images that, after careful selection, are given back to us for presentation, different but alike.

Of all that has passed, five portrayals will remain, brief but not less important for that, five revisits, five shared years, moments of which were wound together and put on record but which will never pass again.

Once again, countless thanks.

Later, by and by, further on, around the bend . . . .who knows? . . . . but that there will be something you manages to see more clearly as a result.

It will continue...