Josef Koudelka is arguably one of photography’s greatest living masters. The eighty-year-old Czech photographer long ago entered the pantheon of photography with an astounding body-of-work including the series Invasion ‘68, Gypsies, Exiles and Chaos, which has been a source of inspiration for generations of photographers worldwide.
Yet very little was known about Koudelka and his creative process. The legendary Magnum Photos member has for decades kept out of the public eye and has led a secluded lifestyle, dedicating himself to photography in the most absolute way possible.
Three years ago, in October 2015, a full-length documentary film came to life which, for the very first time, shed light on the mystery of Josef Koudelka. Koudelka Shooting Holy Land is a unique and intimate look into the creative process of Koudelka as never seen before. The film’s director, Gilad Baram, a young Israeli photography student, was assigned as assistant to Koudelka while the latter was embarking on a four-year-long project in Israel and Palestine** (See below). Baram began following with his own camera, the master photographer on his journey through the region from which a new Koudelka-body-of-work, focusing on the Wall built by Israel in the West Bank, would later emerge.
The result was described by critics as "a fascinating dialogue between Baram’s cinematography and Koudelka’s still photographs as Baram places the photographer in his own breathtaking compositions. Their austere images of a landscape carved up by concrete walls and barbed wire reveal the tragic absurdity of the infamous conflict."
Response to the film soon followed. And it was overwhelming! Being a small and independent production we didn’t foresee the avid interest in a film like ours.
Since its premiere Koudelka Shooting Holy Land has traveled to over 50 countries, showing in major film and photography festivals, in museums and cultural centers, filling cinemas and halls. The film has received critical acclaim and won, among other prizes, the Sky Arte Award at the Trieste Int’l Film Festival, Italy, the Audience Award at the Corsica Docs Int’l Film Festival, France, and and the Prix Essei at the Le FIFA Int’l Festival For Films On Art in Montreal, Canada.
During the last three years, we’ve made it our goal to get the film out there to as many people as possible, and have been working tirelessly to achieve that. Alongside the festivals round, we managed to have Koudelka Shooting Holy Land released in cinemas in Czech Republic, Israel, Italy and Germany as well as broadcast on major European TV channels. But still, to this very day, we receive countless requests from people all over the globe, from Japan to Sweden, who didn’t get to see the film and are asking for a BluRay or DVD edition.
So now, that’s our mission!
This campaign aims to finally make Koudelka Shooting Holy Land available to a wider audience. But we want to offer more than simply putting the film on disk. We aim to create an entire content package that will excite and inspire any photography lover out there.
HERE IS WHAT WE ARE PLANNING
Koudelka Shooting Holy Land’s BluRay & DVD edition will be composed of two parts:
REVISED VERSION: Together with Koudelka himself, we’ll be making changes to the original 72 minutes film, mainly introducing additional Koudelka photographs and contact sheets.
EXCLUSIVE ADDITIONAL CONTENT: We will film, edit, and master over 40 minutes (!) of never-before-seen content which, together with the film, will offer the most extensive, up-to-date visual insight into Koudelka’s way of working on site. This will include:
- In-depth interviews made with Josef Koudelka in his studios in Prague and Paris.
- Incredible scenes that never made it into the original film (Believe us, our hearts were breaking back then in the editing room… We can’t wait to share these with you).
- Questions & Answers with Koudelka and Baram filmed especially for the BluRay & DVD edition in front of a live audience.
If this campaign is successful, we’ll be working around the clock in order to have the BluRay & DVD edition ready for direct distribution TO YOU by the end of December 2018.
As the campaign progresses, we will reveal more details on the content we wish to create, release some snippets of the rough material we would like to offer, introduce to you special supporters of our project and, if we reach our initial target, announce Stretch Goals that will enable us to expand the project with exciting new features. Please contribute now by pre-ordering a BluRay or DVD, or by choosing any of the rewards listed here and help us bring this project to life!
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
We are a small and independent production company and simply don’t have the means to pursue this new project on the scale of production it deserves. The only way to make it happen is if we raise funds from the film’s potential audience - you. Here are some examples of where your money will go:
- Restoring the film’s 2K Digital Source Master in order to, among other things, introduce some new photos and contact sheets given to us by Koudelka and then re-mastering the film. This means high-level but also high-cost post production services including colour grading and sound mixing.
- Colour grading, sound mixing and mastering of the cutting-room-floor scenes.
- Filming, editing, and post production of the interviews with Koudelka in his studios and the live Q&A event with Koudelka and Baram.
- Translation and subtitling of the entire Additional Content section.
- Mastering, authoring, design and production of the entire BluRay & DVD Edition.
WHO ARE WE?
JOSEF KOUDELKA | PROTAGONIST
A legend of photography who doesn’t really need introduction… But for those of you who are first timers, here’s a summary of Koudelka’s life-long achievements:
Born in 1938 in Moravia, Czech Republic, Koudelka received a degree in engineering from the Technical University of Prague in 1961. While working as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava in the early 1960s, he obtained a Rolleiflex camera and began photographing stage productions for theater magazines. Koudelka later left the theater to pursue his interest in the documentation of Gypsy life and culture in Romania, Slovakia, and Western Europe, turning to photography full-time in 1967.
In 1968, just two days after his return from Romania, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague and the Czechs’ nonviolent resistance. With the assistance of art historian and museum director Anna Farova, his negatives were smuggled out of Prague and published by Magnum Photos in New York under the initials “P.P.” (Prague Photographer) to avoid reprisals against Koudelka’s family. Koudelka was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for these photographs in 1969, but did not publicly acknowledge authorship of them until 1985, following the death of his father.
Koudelka left Czechoslovakia in 1970 and sought political asylum in England, where he would live for more than a decade. He joined Magnum Photos Agency in 1971, continuing to travel in Europe and photograph its landscape. Koudelka became a French citizen in 1987 and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1991 – following an absence of over two decades – to produce "Black Triangle," a project documenting the devastation caused by French coal mining in the foothills of the Ore Mountains.
Koudelka is the recipient of numerous awards, including two grants from the Arts Council of Great Britain (1973, 1976), the Prix Nadar, France (1978), the United States National Endowment for the Arts Photography Grant (1980), the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize, Sweden (1992), and the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2004).
Koudelka’s photographs have been exhibited internationally at institutions such as the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Getty Centre, Los Angeles. Monographs of Koudelka’s work include: Gypsies(Aperture 1975), Exiles(Aperture 1988), Prague 1968(Centre National de la Photographie 1990), The Black Triangle: The Foothills of the Ore Mountain(Vesmir 1994), Chaos(Phaidon 1999), Koudelka(Aperture 2006), Invasion 68: Prague(Aperture 2008), Lime (Éditions Xavier Barral 2012), Wall(Aperture 2013). Koudelka lives and works in Paris and Prague.
GILAD BARAM | DIRECTOR CINEMATOGRAPHER & PRODUCER
Photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Berlin. His work, focusing primarily on lens-based images in the era of Internet and big data, has won scholarships and prizes and has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. Koudelka Shooting Holy Land is Baram's directorial debut. His most recent film, The Disappeared (2018, co-directed with Adam Kaplan), premiered at the 68th Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival and was since presented in festivals such as CPH DOX (Denmark), BAFICI (Argentina) and Docaviv (Israel).
ELISA PURFÜRST | EDITOR & CO-WRITER
Freelance film editor and video artist based in Berlin. She graduated with a Diploma degree in film studies at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, Ludwigsburg in the field of editing in 2012. Within her own body of work she experiments with deconstructing notions of gender through a dialogue between analogue and digital medias, such as painting and audio video collages. As an editor, she collaborates with international artists. These works have run at numerous festivals, including Montreal IFF, DOK Leipzig, Docaviv and been awarded several prizes. Among the films she edited are: Versatzstücke (2009), What About Germany (2010), Antons Fest (2013), The Stroker (2018).
** Josef Koudelka arrived in Israel and Palestine as part of a photographic group project named This Place, initiated by photographer Frédéric Brenner. The other photographers who participated in the project included: Frédéric Brenner | Wendy Ewald | Martin Kollar | Jungjin Lee | Gilles Peress | Fazal Sheikh | Stephen Shore | Rosalind Fox Solomon | Thomas Struth | Jeff Wall | Nick Waplington. In 2009, Gilad Baram was assigned as assistant to Josef Koudelka based on a collaboration between the Photography Department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem in which Baram was studying at the time and This Place.
Risks and challenges
We'll be working with top-tier companies in the post-production process and the production of the BluRay & DVD copies and do everything in our ability to deliver on time, as stated here. However, there may be circumstances we can’t anticipate right now which could delay the final delivery. Be assured that Nowhere Films will be monitoring every step of the process closely, and making sure you are updated on each and every step of the way.
And, as disclaimers go, please note the cover image we post here and on social media as well as the images relating to the Additional Material sections are for illustration and do not necessarily reflect or accurately depict the final product we aim on making.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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