CARGO and Short Interview with Laura Waddington by Ki Wong
For the last few years, I have been filming with a small DV camera. I love the freedom that this camera gives me to work alone. In my films, I am trying just to look at the world in a simple way. When I am shooting, I film instinctively, going towards the things that touch me without thinking too much about what the final form of the film will be. The people I film are often living in a situation on the edge of things – the sailors on a cargo ship in CARGO or the Iraqi and Afghan refugees secretly crossing Europe, whom I am presently filming for my film Border. During the shoot, I live in a nomadic way often not knowing in which country I will be the next week or what I will find. Often, I build up very intense bonds with people who I will probably never see again. I think it is a huge privilege to make films in this way. I feel I get to meet so many people and discover the world from a different point of view. I do not think much about the length of the film I am making. CARGO was a short film and Border will probably be long. I believe each film has its own length and that you cannot impose a length on it. The advantage of making short films is that since they cost less, producers are more open to experimentation. When I go to short film festivals, I am often amazed by the large variety of films from so many different places.
She was the only young woman on a large ship full of Romanian and Filipino sailors heading for the Middle East. During the six weeks that she spent on board, even when the ship was moored in a passing port, the crew members were not allowed to disembark. They could only play cards, sing songs, or tell stories to kill time, their lives tedious and trapped. Sometimes she would secretly film the life of the sailors: a man stealing wood on the dock, a sailor fishing from an abandoned pier, a seaman begging the captain to take him back to his country.. The whole film is blurry, the slowed down video and freeze frames make the entire journey feel like a poetic depiction. The young woman recounts her emotions and the stories that she hears and sees from beginning to end, allowing the audience to wander between reality and inner world. The uncertainty and seemingly forgotten state in which the crew memebers live, creates a yearning for the peace of settled days on land. She had always thought that going to sea meant freedom but surrounded by cargo and huge shipping containers, she realizes that she hasn’t really visited any place at all. This was a journey without a destination.
Through this young woman’s perspective: a group of people live out a monotonous life in insecure surroundings. The images are shaky, the camera’s slow movements and the photographic effects blur the pace and rhythm of their activities. The shots linger with a trailing effect, and their stuttered nature make it difficult to discern whether they are moving quickly or slowly. Understated and downplayed, even the most stimulating scenes appear of little importance; the furtiveness of a theft no different from the leisurely fishing and the singing and dancing – just images captured by a lens. What is gleaned from the crew’s life is the director’s perplexity. It feels as if the actors are playing supporting roles in the images, the central protagonist, the one carrying the camera, hidden behind the screen.
Wong, Ki. “Interview with Laura Waddington” Cream Magazine, Hongkong 2002, pp. 142
(With thanks to Suky Gu for co-ordinating the English translation)