Laura Waddington: The Clandestine Camera

At 35, this talented English mixer transgresses codes and conventions to create other images, which are sensitive and personal. Emblematic of a movement which draws its creativity from a telescoping of disciplines, Border her latest short film, produced in France, is in competition this year at Clermont Ferrand. Is this artistic tendency gaining ground in short film?

A thousand miles away from the documentaries, which television has accustomed us to, Border sets out on the trail of the refugees of Sangatte, combining formal sophistication with raw information. In 2001 and 2002, with a small mini DV camera, Laura Waddington filmed the refugees at night, wandering through the fields and motorways around the camp. From this risk filled shoot with extreme technical constraints, she brought back images filmed on the run, fragile, distorted, grainy.

At first, video was a way for her to overcome practical difficulties “While I was living in New York, I met electronic musicians who were making and distributing music out of their apartments. I felt that cinema would eventually move in this direction and that with a small camera, even if I couldn’t find production funds, I’d always be able to continue shooting.” With video, she says she wanted to “unlearn” the reflexes she’d acquired shooting film. By filming “without using (her) eyes” as with ZONE, filmed in 1995 on a transatlantic ship with a video camera sewn into her jacket.

Two years later, she carried further this process of exploration with The Lost Days, the story of a woman travelling the globe, who sends back video letters to a friend in New York. In fact, via internet, the filmmaker contacted fifteen people from different countries and asked them to videotape their cities as if they were her protagonist.

Laura Waddington does not believe in an objective reality and prefers to present a partial, incomplete vision “ like a sort of notebook.” Her experimental veerings around the porous frontiers of documentary and fiction stimulate the spectator by making him or her question the veracity of the narrative. “I’ve always considered short film to be a valid form in itself and not, as seems to often be the case in France, a calling card for feature film making.”

(Translated from the french)

“Laura Waddington: La caméra clandestine”, Télérama, France, du 4 au 10 fevrier 2006 No 2925