Printed Matter displays the conflation of private lives and contemporary geopolitics. The evidence comes from Brutmann's father, André, who was, up to his untimely death in 2002, a freelance press photographer covering two decades of Middle East news for local newspapers as well as for International, mostly European, print media. His voluminous collection offers a visual chronicle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that consists of surprisingly familiar images of civil dissent, armed violence, funeral grief and political speeching in both Israel and the Occupied Territories. After becoming a dad in 1983 and finishing a day of work, with a few pictures left on the film role in his camera, this professional media worker would regularly photograph his daughter and wife, later a family of four. Printed Matter simply shows an exquisite selection of contact sheets including memorable events such as the First and Second Intifada, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin and the birth of Sirah Foighel Brutmann. Instead of using formatted captions, the filmmakers choose for the impromptu voice comment by the first witness to these histories: Hanne Foighel, André’s partner and freelance journalist, reminisces on the past while browsing through its records and getting her memory triggered. As if it were a fragile time capsule steered by her provident off-screen voice, Printed Matter takes its viewers on a still yet penetrating excursion into the intimacies of political history and the politics of intimate lives.
At Images (CA) it won the Marian McMahon Award 2012. Quoting from the jury statement: "This is a film that combines history and autobiography as they meet in a backstage record of a conflict between Israel as a nation and the struggle of the Palestinian people for nationhood. Layers of inevitable ambivalence towards these issues - as well an ambivalence between daughter and mother, wife and husband - inform our viewing, one after the other, the contact sheets of the late Andre Brutmann, photographer and father of the filmmaker. What we see in Printed Matter is the making of history through visuality. From an accidental or circumstantial beginning, the professionalization of the photographer goes hand in hand with the hardening of the political situation as expressed through the mother’s account of her everyday war experiences. What the film leaves us with is a living question of who becomes the chronicler of history."
Cinematographer Sébastien Koeppel
Editing Sirah Foighel Brutmann & Eitan Efrat
Final sound editing & mixing Laszlo Umbreit
Sound assistance Christian Coppin at Atelier Graphoui
Production assistant & credits Fairuz
Produced by Auguste Orts
With the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, STUK Leuven, LUCA School of Arts, The Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam & Atelier Graphoui