The Netherlands, 2001
29 mins, Digibeta, Colour, Stereo

Directed, Written, Camera, Edited Laura Waddington
Produced The International Film Festival Rotterdam and De Productie, Rotterdam.
Music Simon Fisher Turner
Voice Laura Waddington


The International Film Festival Rotterdam for their 30th anniversary project “On the Waterfront”


The 30th International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2001


CARGO is the story of a journey, I made on a container ship with a group of Rumanian and Filipino sailors, who were delivering cargo to the Middle East. I stayed on the ship six weeks. Most of the sailors weren’t allowed to leave the boat and they spent their days waiting, singing karaoke and telling me stories in a small TV room. In Syria, the ports were military zones. I hid at a porthole and secretly filmed the life below: a man stealing wood, a soldier fishing off the edge of an abandoned submarine. Later, I made a narrative, that falls between reality and fiction. It was a way of showing the limbo these men were living in.

Laura Waddington, 2001

Looking back on the making of “CARGO

We had been in Syria and were now floating at sea, the sailors sleeping. I went out on deck and sat amongst the containers. They had been hot, exhausting days, the sailors obliged to work with decrepit and malfunctioning loading equipment. Shortly before I’d boarded the ship, two of the crew, sleepless and overworked, had been crushed by falling containers, as they unloaded cargo there. A voice had come over the satellite radio, ordering the ship to carry on its endless journey and they had had to abandon their paralyzed shipmates in a hospital, with promise to return later.

related passage in “Scattered Truth”

Press Quotes

“For this writer, film of the festival was Laura Waddington’s CARGO, an atmospheric and melancholy personal journey by merchant ship and a perceptive analysis of the emotional cost of globalisation”
Gareth Evans, SIGHT AND SOUND, London

CARGO is nothing less than dazzling. Visually, it’s superb (the dreamlike images, the work on time, the astonishing colours) but most of all, through her use of voice over, she lends these men an exemplary humanity and dignity.”
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Olivier Nicklaus, LES INROCKUPTIBLES, Paris

“A powerful adventure on the Mediterranean with undocumented sailors, by one of the most brilliant and courageous filmmakers of her generation, worthy heir to Henri Storck, Paul Strand, Marcel Hanoun.”

“The ARTE Prize for a European short film goes to Laura Waddington’s CARGO, a lyrical voyage on the Mediterranean depicted in a series of distended moments. Combining diaristic text with painterly visuals, the director recounts a dialogue between a mute woman and the forgotten men who work on a cargo ship. We are drawn into a nomadic journey at the frontier of European consciousness; a reflection on what it means to be a citizen without country, to drift without destination. In this way, Waddington opens up a broader reflection of the nature of human identity and human existence”

“Lost in Space: Poetic and exquisitely beautiful, Laura Waddington’s dream video diary records the melancholy shadow life of a container ship in perpetual limbo”

“In CARGO there is again a chosen limit: She boards in semi-secrecy a ship bound for the Middle East. From her cabin she records the journey trying to save a few traces, a few images of the ships loading and unloading… What she records most of all is the difficulty of only being able to live the world by moving across it and withdrawing from its tumult.”
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ARTE Prize for Best European Short Film, The 48th International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany
First Prize ex aequo, Videoex 2002, Festival of Experimental Film and Video, Zurich, Switzerland


The 30th International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2001 (World premiere)
The New York Video Festival 2001, Film Society of Lincoln Center
The 30th Montreal Festival of New Cinema and New Media, Canada, 2001
The 45th London International Film Festival, United Kingdom, 2001
The 19th World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2001
The 22nd Durban International Film Festival, South Africa, 2001
The 48th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany, 2002
The Jeonju International Film Festival 2002, South Korea
The 14th Ankara International Film Festival, Turkey, 2002
The 10th Filmer a tout prix, Bruxelles, Belgium, 2002
ISEA 2002, International Symposium on Electronic Arts, Nagoya, Japan
The One World International Film Festival, Prague, Czech Republic, 2003
The One World Human Rights Film Festival, Council for defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, Prishtina, Kosovo, 2003
The 51st Sydney International Film Festival, Australia, 2004
The 9th Malaysian Video Awards Festival 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“Vidéo et après: Laura Waddington” Musée National d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, November 2006


Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
International Film Festival Oberhausen, Film and video archive, Germany
The International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, Paris
Bibliothèque de l’Université Laval, Quebec, Canada
“It’s Hard to Touch the Real” archive, Grazer Kunstverein, Austria
The Cinematheque de Tangiers, Morocco
Bibliothèque de l’Ecole supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Nimes, France

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