September 08, 2010

The Getty Museum Presents Witnesses in Action Film Series

Powerful documentary series complements "Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties"

At the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center

September 25—26 and October 2—3, 2010


LOS ANGELES—Witnesses in Action explores the moving image as a mode of critically engaged observation, with seven films that investigate war, globalization, political upheaval, and youth culture. Using stylistic approaches from hand-held vérité to sweeping panoramas, these provocative works reveal the photographic process, expose otherwise inaccessible places, and illuminate both the intimate relationships and the incredible risks undertaken by those behind the camera. Witnesses in Action complements the exhibition Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center through November 14.

Two of the screenings will feature discussions with the directors. The film Kids and Money on September 26 will feature a special presentation and Q&A with director Lauren Greenfield. On October 2, following the film Restrepo, director Tim Hetherington will be on hand for a Q&A and a book-signing of his forthcoming photography book Infidel, the content of which is drawn from the film.

Witnesses in Action is presented Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26 and October 2 and 3, in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center. Admission is free, but reservations are required for each film. To make reservations, call (310) 440-7300 or visit

Schedule of Films

Saturday, September 25, 4 p.m.

Directed by Jennifer Baichwal
(2007, 90 min., 35 mm, not rated)

Follow photographer Edward Burtynsky through China as he shoots the extraordinary evidence and effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution. Breathtaking sequences allow us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste. Nominated for a 2007 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

Saturday, September 25, 7 p.m.

Directed by Anders Ostergaard
(2009, 84 min., Digibeta, not rated)

The military junta rules Burma, and undercover video journalists must undertake a dangerous reportage: to document events and smuggle out images for the rest of the world to see, risking torture and life imprisonment. Equipped with hidden handicams and a compulsive instinct to shoot what they witness, in 2007 the VJs filmed the dramatic protests by Buddhist monks in Rangoon. The Burma VJ is an everyman, but he is also an accidental hero - a freedom fighter armed with a camera. Oscar© nominated, 2010.

Sunday, September 26, 1 p.m.

Directed by Lauren Greenfield
(2008, 32 min., HDCAM, not rated)

A piercing short film by photographer Lauren Greenfield, Kids and Money is a conversation with young people about the influence of money in their lives. Born of the extremes of poverty and wealth that define the Los Angeles landscape, teens and tweens from Pacific Palisades to East Los Angeles address how they are shaped by a culture of consumerism.

Following the screening, Lauren Greenfield will give a special presentation about her body of work in photography and film, with a question-and-answer session.

Sunday, September 26, 3 p.m.

Directed by Martin Bell
(1984, 91 min., HDCAM, not rated)

This newly remastered, unflinching documentary tracks nine teenagers living on the streets of Seattle in the 1980s, exposing their day-to-day battles with petty crime and poverty. Produced in conjunction with Mary Ellen Mark’s photographic project of the same name, the film’s cinéma vérité style allows the kids to speak frankly with resolute, sometimes playful, and surprisingly wistful perspectives in the face of insurmountable struggles. Oscar© nominated, 1985.

Saturday, October 2, 4 p.m.

Directed by James Longley
(2006, 94 min., 35mm, not rated)

An opus in three parts, Iraq in Fragments is a stunningly photographed documentary of the war-torn country as seen through the eyes of Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. With just a handheld camera and no crew, the director’s fly-on-a-wall method delivers a series of intimate portraits: an orphaned child in Baghdad; Sadr followers in two Shiite cities; and a family of Kurdish farmers with a newfound taste of freedom. Oscar© nominated, 2007.

Saturday, October 2, 7 p.m.

Directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
(2010, 93 min., rated R)

An electrifying trip into combat and the hearts of men, Restrepo follows the deployment of the U.S. Army’s Second Platoon to the most dangerous place on earth—the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. With a deliberately apolitical approach, the directors sought solely to document the harrowing reality of soldiers’ lives, and the result is a visceral journey into the war experience that has never before been seen. Winner of the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentary. Currently, this is the only chance to see Restrepo in Los Angeles.

Featuring a question-and-answer session and book signing with director Tim Hetherington.

Sunday, October 3, 3 p.m.

Directed by Christian Frei
(2001, 96 min., 35 mm, no rating)

War Photographer offers an elegant portrait of the modest, meticulous, and renowned photojournalist James Nachtwey at work in the field in Kosovo, the West Bank, and Indonesia. Footage from microcameras attached to Nachtwey’s own still camera reveals his determined, quiet bravery and unshakable commitment to photography as a means of telling the difficult stories that are otherwise overlooked. Oscar© nominated, 2002.

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Desiree Zenowich
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7304

Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7607

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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