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

Press Quotes

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“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, impressions that come to her and which she seizes almost blindly. 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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“On with CARGO to the enclosed spaces of journeys by ship in the company of some of the most wretched human beings on earth, seaman whose working=living conditions have considerably worsened in the last 20, 30 years. A tribe of the working class that in several ways has no fatherland. More often than not they’re prisoners of their vessels, its flag, as well as their own passports (if they have one): they can’t leave when the ship enters a harbour, more often than not they have to contain with looking at yet another country.”
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“For the stamina of personal vision which dares to find in the everyday glimpses of a rare and sublime passion, for understanding that these pictures have to be lived before they are produced, for its enclosed travelogue of barely met desires and palpable longings, for sharing its loneliness and the small hole we each peer through named the personality, which is also here the camera, the filmmaker herself no longer framing but framed, for opening into a world that was closing all around her the prize goes to CARGO by Laura Waddington”
International Jury Statement, FIRST PRIZE EX AEQUO, VIDEOEX 2002, Zurich

“As in previous productions, such as The Lost Days (1999), Waddington uses the travelogue as a pattern to tell a personal story and/or a social story. For most of the young men on board, the romance of the carefree life of the seaman has lost its shine along the way. Many have ended up in a hopeless situation: some have received no pay for months, some have not been ashore for years. The uncertainty, being totally at the mercy of the owners on shore, who are sometimes not in touch for weeks at a time, places them in a world that is very remote from ours”
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Christel Vesters, WWVF CATALOGUE, Amsterdam 2001

“Laura Waddington’s talent does not simply consist in observing reality. Whether she is scrutinizing the shadows or fixing her camera on the faces of men adrift (the sailors in CARGO seem to come straight out of a novel, a feeling heightened by the style of the voice-over) her video camera transports us into a dimension where time no longer has a hold. A sensuous experience during which we become sailors without a port or refugees in the night. Ghosts wandering over the surface of our earth… In her own fashion the director bears witness to the fate of those who have no voice. Her cinema is the reflection of a generous spirit”
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Pascal Mieszala, PLAN RAPPROCHÉ, France

“Undermining the assumed “authoritarian” nature of documentaries is Laura Waddington’s CARGO (2001). “It had been years since I had been able to watch like that – without the pretense of understanding,” admits the narrator, while Waddington’s observational camera stares out of a porthole. CARGO is an insightful contradiction of global transportation and restricted movement: traveling by cargo ship for the Middle East, neither Waddington nor the other workers are allowed to disembark at ports. In lieu of unlimited access, Waddington uses her constraints as an aesthetic device. Filtered through a necessary extreme zoom and rendered in slow motion, Cargo’s images are hazy and hypnotic: the ambiguities of truth and understanding become manifest in the blurred pixels of digital video.
Cullen Gallagher, THE L MAGAZINE, US

“While ports are often portrayed as the beginning or ending of stories, for these sailors, ports are their life, on hold, in transit and never getting anywhere… impressions of moments of despair, solitude, camaraderie, love and boredom, and you, as audience or “reader” are lulled into a similar state of drifting… Her sailors have a tenderness about them…- men standing on decks, sleeping in shelters, silently waiting.”
Koon Yee-wan, MUSE Issue 30, Hong Kong