This month Michael Mann and David Frankham are teaming up with HBO as the creators of a brand new documentary mini-series called ‘Witness’. The four part series focuses on photojournalists working in Juarez, Libya, South Sudan and Rio. Here’s the synopsis:
Presented in four parts – Juarez, Libya, South Sudan and Rio – Witness focuses on three determined photojournalists: Eros Hoagland, who explores the gang- and drug-related violence in both Juarez, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Michael Christopher Brown, who chronicles escalating ethnic tensions in the wake of Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster last year in Libya; and Véronique de Viguerie, who follows the “Arrow Boys” and their struggle against General Kony in South Sudan. Between these three, their photos have appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Paris Match, The Guardian and many other publications.
Ever notice that Michael Mann is obsessed with ears?
TDN: As Michael Mann has ventured into digital territory—or, in some cases, into a hybrid of digital and celluloid—there has been an unexpected and unusual compositional focus on the ear. Mann doesn’t so much glamorize the cosmetics of the ear but rather makes it an intractable fact of life in so many of his images. It’s almost always there on the edge of the frame in both dialogue scenes and set pieces, either just barely out of reach of the lens’ focal length or indeed the lone focal point, a stray ear in an expansive frame. Due to Mann’s increasingly regular use of wide-angle lenses at atypical moments—a tendency that cuts across his collaborations with various DP’s (Dante Spinotti, Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron, Emmanuel Lubezki, Lukas Strebel)—there’s a heightened awareness towards objects in close proximity to the camera (and thus an uncanny feeling that there is indeed a camera). Combine that with his urge to get closer and closer to bodies, seemingly interested in one day actually merging with them entirely, and the ear becomes one of the most consistent focal points, a magnetic area of attention. There’s a head there too, but the ear is what makes itself known.
Alex Colville’s painting Pacific and Michael Mann’s Heat