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Magnum Photos: The Changing of a Myth
A Film by Reiner Holzemer
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film stillFor a young photographer today, it is still a great dream to become a member of Magnum Photos, the world's most prestigious photo agency. Founded as a unique cooperative in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger, Magnum Photos is owned by its members. Created to give photographers the freedom and independence to work outside of the restrictive formulas of commercial journalism, Magnum was built upon the principle that the vision of every individual photographer be respected.

Today the agency runs offices in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. With almost 50 photographers it strives to record all facets of the human condition, be it beauty or horror. Working on projects for years, resisting trends and sensationalism (not one image of the late Princess Diana can be found in its archive), the members of Magnum are still considered the premier photographers in the world.

MAGNUM PHOTOS captures on film Magnum photographers Martin Parr, Larry Towell, Luc Delahaye and Donovan Wylie, the youngest member, in the field. Well-known photographers Rene Burri and Philipp Jones Griffiths discuss the history of this groundbreaking institution, putting its accomplishments into context. Filmmaker Reiner Holzemar was granted extraordinary access to the intimate workings of the agency. He is the first to have filmed the annual Magnum Photos meeting, where some of the world's finest photographers decide upon the nominations of new members. Reiner was able to film Henri Cartier-Bresson, the camera shy founder of Magnum, shortly before Bresson's 90th birthday.

From the farmlands of Canada where Mexican Mennonites toil, to the battlefields of Bosnia, MAGNUM PHOTOS explores the history and accomplishments of this remarkable and resilient agency. Although the non-commercial principles upon which Magnum is founded are difficult to adhere to in trying financial times, the Magnum archive of over one million photographs continues to grow.

"Artfully weaves together a sort of history of Magnum Photos. An excellent video ... [on] photography's changing role. It will inspire undergraduates and fire up bored professionals. Filmmaker Reiner Holzemer deserves a round of applause. Highly recommended."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"A tightly edited 58 minutes of history and honest talk about the cooperative… [MAGNUM PHOTOS] succeeds in letting us hear what's on [the photographers'] minds, watching them shoot and seeing the final contact sheet. If you liked Russell Miller's book on Magnum, you'll enjoy seeing the personalities come to life in Holzemer's film."—PDN (Photo District News)

"Utilizing some first rate shots of the classic images on which Magnum's reputation was built, [MAGNUM PHOTOS] provides an excellent general introduction to those unique qualities and achievements that still make it the finest photo agency in the world…. Quintessentially Magnum on Magnum - honest and dispassionate."—History of Photography

Official Selection, 2001 Society for Photograpic Education Conference Film Festival

58 minutes / Color
Release: 2000
Copyright: 1999

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Communication, Journalism, Photography, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights

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