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19 August 2016: Ethnographies: Man of Aran + Atlantiques

"When behind each shape more than the past lays hidden, when that which lay before us was not the future" – Rainer Maria Rilke

Sharna Pax presents Knotted Fields, a series of film screenings concerned with shifting material and industrial landscapes, and the relationship between land and those passing through it. Part III of this series presents Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran preceded by Mati Diop’s Atlantiques.

Mati Diop
2009 I 15 min I Colour | Digital

Sitting by the campfire, a boy from Dakar named Serigne tells his two friends the story of his sea voyage as a stowaway. Not only he, but everyone in his surroundings seems to be continually obsessed by the idea of trying to cross the sea. His words reverberate like a melancholy poem. A story about boys who are continually travelling: between past, present and future, between life and death, history and myth.

Man of Aran
Robert Flaherty
1934 | 76 min | B/W | DCP

"What the camera wished to photograph" – Robert Flaherty

Robert Flaherty, known as one of the founding figures of documentary film, spent three years making this film about life on the Aran islands in the 1930’s. Located on the west coast of Ireland, Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore were home to families who constantly battled against the elements to survive. It was the custom of the men to await the annual migration of basking sharks. If caught, they would provide a family with enough oil for a year, but to catch them meant setting sail in a flimsy boat. Could it protect the fishermen against the pounding force of the ocean? In this blend of documentary and fictional narrative, the everyday trials of life on Ireland’s unforgiving Aran Islands are captured, celebrating the strength and resilience of these families overcoming incredible odds.