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Posts Tagged ‘fisherman’

Photo: Kino Lorber.
The film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, directed by Bill Morrison, is a project that got started after an Icelandic fisherman pulled up an old Soviet movie from the depths.

Remember this post on repurposing 1980s photos of New Orleans street life damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Today’s story on waterlogged 35mm film found by a fisherman reminds me that creative people keep discovering ways of working with damaged art to convey deeper messages. It’s as if the lost island of Atlantis wants to break through to our modern world.

Dan Schindel reports at Hyperallergic, “In 2016, a fisherman dredged up a case off the coast of Iceland that contained four reels of decades-old 35mm film. It looked like the beginning of an inspirational story about a precious movie rediscovery. But, anti-climactically, he’d merely found pieces of the 1968 Soviet mystery-comedy Derevenskiy Detektiv (‘Village Detective’) — which was, as filmmaker and historian Bill Morrison puts it, ‘not lost, rare, or even, to my mind … particularly good.’

“But such an unusual event still deserved scrutiny. What circumstances led this particular film to this completely unexpected place? Morrison’s investigation resulted in his new film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle.

“Morrison constructs his films — such as Decasia (2002) and The Great Flood (2013) — from raw, unrestored fragments of celluloid. In 2016’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, he told the story of a much more exciting rediscovery, how hundreds of lost films were dug up from under a skating rink in the Yukon. He showcases the images of these movies with every scratch, fade, and blur included.

“Each film print records two stories: the one a crew conjured together however long ago, and the record of everything that’s happened to the strip since its creation. The vagaries of the projection, transportation, and preservation of physical film leave it vulnerable to damage. Many archival projects focus on the first story, but Morrison is interested in both. …

“Finding some reels of Village Detective may not in itself be remarkable, but this specific reel has its own unique story, and Morrison finds value in that. His interrogation of the water-warped images becomes a rumination on mortality.

Village Detective starred Mikhail Zharov. To several 20th-century generations of Russians, he was a vital figure, an acclaimed and popular actor who worked with many of the titans at the forefront of Soviet cinema development, including Sergei Eisenstein. … Morrison was told about the fisherman’s discovery by his friend Jóhann Jóhannsson. …

“Through images of Village Detective and Zharov’s other films, as well as pieces from contemporary Soviet cinema and modern-day interviews with historians and preservationists, Morrison reconstructs the actor’s life and times, tracing the path of his career.

“The discovery of his work entombed at the bottom of the sea precipitates the audience’s own rediscovery of him — through the use of his films, that rediscovery becomes something like a resurrection. He’s dead, he’s gone, and yet there he is again. He may be hard to discern through the haze of distorted colors or the flurry of scratches, but you can appreciate the way he acts. …

“The past is supposed to just be what we remember, and yet in the act of watching a film, we are in communion with it. From what could have merely been a curiosity, Morrison constructs a haunted, haunting meditation.”

Whenever I see an offbeat movie like this (the most recent being Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I), I think of my friend Penny, now gone. She used to make offbeat, artsy but messy Super-8 films back in the ’60s, and I helped. Even though we both worked in the mornings, Penny was a great one for dragging me out of my apathy to go to downtown Philadelphia for a Kenneth Anger flic or an Andy Warhol. Sure do miss her.

More at Hyperallergic, here.

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Photo: Opération cétacés.
Humpback whale breaching.

In case you couldn’t get behind the New York Times firewall to read about the whale that tried to swallow a lobster fisherman, here’s the gist of it. It’s a great reminder that all our ancient, impossible-seeming stories, from the Bible’s Jonah to Pinocchio and Geppetto, generally have a basis in fact.

Maria Cramer reported, “It was sunny and clear on Friday morning and the water was calm off the coast of Provincetown, Mass., where Michael Packard was diving for lobsters. His longtime fishing partner, Josiah Mayo, was following him in their fishing vessel, the J&J, tracking him through the bubbles that rose from Mr. Packard’s breathing gear to the surface of the water. The men had already caught 100 pounds of lobster, and Mr. Packard was about 40 feet underwater, looking for more.

“Suddenly, the bubbles stopped, Mr. Mayo said. Then, the water began to churn violently. A creature breached the surface and for an agonizing split second, Mr. Mayo thought it was a white shark.

‘I immediately thought it was the shark encounter that we’d unfortunately been preparing for for years,’ he said in an interview on Saturday.

“Then, he saw the fluke and the head of a whale. Moments later, he saw Mr. Packard fly out of the water.

“ ‘ “It tried to eat me,” ’ Mr. Packard sputtered, according to Mr. Mayo. The whale, a humpback, swam away as Mr. Mayo and another fisherman helped Mr. Packard back into the boat.

“Such terrifying encounters are virtually unheard-of, according to Charles Mayo, Josiah Mayo’s father and a senior scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, a town of about 3,000 people on the tip of Cape Cod. …

“ ‘I’ve never heard of that ever happening,’ Dr. Mayo said of Mr. Packard’s ordeal. Still, the encounter is explainable, he said.

“The whale, possibly a 32- to 35-foot juvenile that had previously been seen swimming in the area, was most likely diving for food when it inadvertently caught Mr. Packard in its enormous mouth.

“Humpback whales spend much of their time in that part of New England, searching for and engulfing small schooling fish, said Jooke Robbins, director of the humpback whale studies program at the Center for Coastal Studies. They lunge fast, open their mouths and use baleen plates to ‘filter’ the water out before swallowing the fish, Dr. Robbins said in a statement.

“When the whale realized it had caught something that was not its typical prey — in this case, an unsuspecting lobsterman — it responded the way a human who accidentally ingested a fly would, Dr. Mayo said. …

“Mr. Packard told reporters that he was on his second dive, going toward the bottom of sea when he felt ‘this truck hit me.’ His first thought was that a white shark had attacked him, but when he did not feel teeth piercing into him, he realized he was inside a whale.

“ ‘I was completely inside; it was completely black,’ Mr. Packard told The Cape Cod Times. ‘I thought to myself: There’s no way I’m getting out of here — I’m done, I’m dead. All I could think of was my boys — they’re 12 and 15 years old.’ …

“He said he struggled against the mouth of the whale and could feel its powerful muscles squeezing against him. Then, he saw light and felt the whale’s head shaking and his body being thrown into the water. …

“Mr. Packard, who was released from the hospital on Friday, had extensive bruises, but no broken bones.”

More at the Times, here.

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I added Ello to my social media a while ago but am only now beginning to explore it. A kind of Facebook without ads, it seems to be preferred by people in the arts. Lately, Ello has been publishing interviews with particularly interesting users.

Here are excerpts from Ello Chief Marketing Officer Mark Gelband’s interview with Ben Staley.

“Ben Staley is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, storyteller, photographer, and professional adventure-haver. His striking portraits and nature photography are a constant source of inspiration to the Ello team. …

“Mark: I started paying really close attention to your work when you were documenting the film you’re making about ships and welders. Could you tell us more about that project?

“Ben: The project is called ‘Starbound’ and it’s about a boat of the same name. The boat is a catch processor that fishes on the Bering Sea. It’s a top performer but the factory was outdated and inefficient and they were losing money. The construction project would lengthen the boat, making it as environmentally friendly as possible and saving the jobs of the 100+ crew members. The owners are doing it for the best reasons. They could have taken the easy way out and and saved a lot of money up front and had no risk, but they undertook this incredible challenge because they care about the environment and their employees and their families. …

“For me as a storyteller it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture this process and tell their story. The family that owns the boat are incredibly committed and hardworking people and they will willingly spend more money and take on this risk to do things the right way. …

“Picking a 240 foot-long boat up out of the water, cutting it in half and sticking 60 foot section in the middle, welding it back together and putting it back in the water. All in the space of a couple months. The hard work, skill and craftsmanship are incredible. …  I’ll be making the first trip to sea with the boat later this summer and hope to have the doc done by end of year. …

(more…)

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On Wednesday, according to Todd Feathers in the Boston Globe, a New Hampshire scallop fisherman found something unusual in his catch.

“As Mike and Padi Anderson sold their catch of scallops on the dock Wednesday night in Rye Harbor, N.H., it was not just their shellfish that drew people’s interest. It was an ­object that looks like a 6-inch-long tooth that Mike had dredged up from the ocean earlier that day. …

“A crew member e-mailed a picture to a geologist from the University of New Hampshire, and a short while later the verdict came back: The tooth almost certainly belonged to a woolly mammoth. …

“The tooth weighs about 5 pounds and still has remnants of the root that connected it to the mammoth’s gums, Mike Anderson said in a phone interview from the deck of his boat, the F/V Rimrack. …

“The Andersons, who are married, will have to wait until William Clyde, the geologist, ­returns from a trip to South America before they can confirm that the tooth once belonged to a mammoth, but for them, the preliminary ruling is enough.”

Anderson seems excited to head back out for more archaeology. More.

Reminds me of John Hanson Mitchell and his book Ceremonial Time, which describes his attempts to sense and experience 15,000 years of life around his home in Massachusetts.

Finding a woolly mammoth tooth must really make one pause and think about big things.

Photograph of scallop fisherman Mike Anderson: Ionna Raptis/ Portsmouth Herald via AP

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I had heard about community-supported-agriculture-type efforts that deliver fish directly to consumers in the Greater Boston area. Very fresh. What I did not know is that this sort of initiative is taking place on a wider scale.

My husband recently pointed out a NY Times story on how professional Rhode Island fishermen have made it easy for chefs to buy directly from the daily catch. And according to the Times, the chefs are ecstatic.

“This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that [Point Judith-based fisherman Steve] Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. …

“Trace and Trust comes at a moment when the seafood industry is under attack because of misleading labeling as well as the freshness and sustainability of what it sells. Consumers and fishermen have reacted by setting up community-supported fisheries, in which consumers pay in advance for a weekly delivery of seafood. And fishermen have reached out to chefs before. But Trace and Trust has used technology to create a more direct and responsive connection between consumers and fishermen than any other program in the country, said Peter Baker, director of Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group.”

Read more here. See also the Pew Environment Group’s focus on Conserving New England Fish.

Because of the field I’m in, I do have to spare a thought for the fish-processing jobs that may be lost with more of this direct marketing, but there is no doubt that for the fisherman, the consumer, and the restaurant, fresh is best.

Here’s a picture I took of the Point Judith (RI) fishing fleet at rest.

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