Gael Métroz and Dziga Vertov

By | 13/09/2008

For three weeks he had no battery and was unable to record anything but the rest of the time he was collecting 150hrs worth of video for his documentary Nomad’s land. We’re speaking of Gael Métroz of course, a swiss born traveler who wanted to retrace the steps of Nicholas Bouvier. He would travel from Switzerland to Sri Lanka.

I want to see the documentary but so far I’ve had no opportunity. I’m more interested in what he talked about in between seesmics. He told us that he would meet with the people and let them use his camera. At first what they filmed would not be so good and he would show them how to get some better results. In effect the people would participate in the making of the documentary.

It’s interesting because that’s what Dziga Vertov was trying to do with the Agit trains in Russia in the early 1900s, the idea that the camera would be used to document the everyday lives of groups of people in a country as vast as Russia in Vertov’s case and as big as half the globe in relation to Métroz’ case.

That’s the trip you want to do, one where you travel for a year meeting people, experiencing their culture and really having the time to talk. He would bring up that he wishes he had this amount of time in the Western world to get to know people, without having to worry about everything else. It was interesting.

That’s what would make an interesting travel documentary, far more in depth than the entertaining Lonely Planets we have watched on numerous occasions.

It was also a taste of why I enjoyed going to the Frontline club in London. You get a short introduction about the subject, watch the documentary and then listen as people discuss the issues that are raised by the documentaries. It’s an academic exercise rather than entertainment. It’s a shame there aren’t more opportunities like this that i know of around Switzerland.

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