CARGO and Short Interview with Laura Waddington by Ki Wong

Ki WongCream Magazine, Hongkong 2002, pp. 142.


She was the only young woman on a large ship full of Romanian and Filipino sailors headed 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 monotonous and dull. 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 entire film was blurry, the slowed down video and freeze frames made the whole journey feel like a poetic vision. The young woman recounted her emotions, and the stories that she heard and observed from start to finish, allowing the audience to wander between reality and inner world. The uncertain and forgotten state in which the crew members lived, created a yearning in people for the peace and stability of days on land. She had always imagined that going to sea meant freedom but once surrounded by cargo and huge shipping containers, she realized that she hasn’t really visited any place at all. This was a journey without a destination.

We watched through the young woman’s eyes: a group of people live out a tedious life in insecure surroundings. The screen shook, the camera moved slowly, the photographic effects blurred the rhythm of their activities. The images trailed and stuttered, making it difficult to determine whether they were unfolding quickly or slowly. Unwavering and understated, even the most exciting of scenes appeared insignificant: the furtiveness of a theft no different from the leisurely fishing and the singing and dancing, just images captured by a lens. What could be read in the depiction of the crew’s life was the director’s perplexity. In the images, the actors were playing supporting roles, the central protagonist, the one carrying the camera, hidden behind the screen.

Ki Wong



Laura Waddington:

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.

Wong, Ki. “Interview with Laura Waddington” Cream Magazine, Hongkong 2002, pp. 142

(With thanks to Suky Gu for co-ordinating the English translation)