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“Salt of the Earth” (2014) by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribero Salgado.

Documentary “Salt of the Earth” (2014) by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribero Salgado about the life work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it picked up the Special Prize Award.

The film follows Salgado's life from the time he and his wife Lélia Wanick Salgado left their native Brazil, then under military dictatorship, and his journey to become one of the world's most renown photographers. Salgado was born on February 8, 1944 in Aimorés, Minas Gerais, Brazil. During his early career path he worked as an economist for the International Coffee Organization under the World Bank. But in 1973 he gave up a life of financial security to follow his dream to become a professional photographer.

With the unconditional support of his wife, Salgado traveled to over 100 countries documenting people in their environments during some of recent history's most horrific events- desertification in Africa, oil fields in Kuwait, genocide in Rwanda and Eastern Europe- after which he published multiple photography books including: Other Americas (1986), Sahel: l’homme en détresse (1986), Sahel: el fin del camino (1988), Workers (1993), Terra (1997), Migrations and Portraits (2000), Africa (2007), and Genesis (2011).

The film follows Salgado's life in photos as he himself speaks about his experience and memories during some of his toughest expeditions. After his last work in Africa documenting the civil war in Rwanda, he was so down on the darkness of the human spirit that he nearly gave up his profession; "I had lost all faith in the future of humanity," says Salgado. It was when his wife Lélia suggested they focus on nature and replant the dead forest of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil that inspired his book Genesis. In 1998 they started Instituto Terra, which is dedicated to reforestation and the refocus on nature and life, a movement which Salgado documented in his book. After so many years documenting war, death and ruin across the world, Genesis was a tribute to the positive regenerative forces of nature.

“Salt of the Earth” is film and suspended images combined showing us the world up close in all its darkness and light. Through the brilliant eyes of Wenders and Salgado, we are dragged into a black void through images of humanity's proclivity to war and destruction and later brought back up to the light, redeemed again through Salgado's art; a reminder that even when all seems lost we have the power to rise up, rebuild and regrow again.

International sales rights are handled by Le Pacte who sold US distribution rights to Sony Pictures Classics at the close of the Cannes film market.

Photos by Sebastião Salgado

View trailer here:


Review written by Vanessa McMahon