This summer, as part of its 75th-anniversary celebrations and in partnership with the BFI and Rio Cinema, Magnum presents an interrogation of its photojournalistic archives via film in a series of screenings and discussions

Magnum Photos is hosting its first UK Film Festival: Refocusing the Lens: from the Centre to the Margins from July 30–August 3 at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. The festival presents an interrogation of Magnum’s 75-year archive through five film screenings and discussions, each zooming in on issues of ethics, underrepresentation, and positionality behind the lens.

John Irving’s itinerant 1969 enquiry into photojournalism sets the scene for this strand in which the same setting is revisited by two auteurs with distinctly different positionalities. Wandering the streets of Harlem, Bruce Davidson and Khalik Allah contemplateurban decay and racialised disfranchisement, as well as the constant and evolving debates on the moral implications of documenting such environments.

John Irvin’s Beautiful, Beautiful (1969, 50m) was dubbed ‘”A confessional for photographers who have made an art out of turning the horrors of the human condition into things of beauty.”upon its release. The documentary shadows some of the mos tprominent photojournalists of the 60’s, including Bruce Davidson as he visits Harlem, which would culminate in his seminal East 100th Street series.

‘If Jesus held the camera and was walking the streets that’s who I wanna be’- Khalik Allah, Urban Rashomon Navigating a degree of intimacy that verges on uncomfortable, in Urban Rashomon (2013, 21m) Khalik Allah offers a local’s perspective of the same streets chronicled by Davidson 5 decades earlier. Nocturnal stills are accompanied by introspection on the technical and experiential processes of photographing ‘Frenchie’, a substance-dependent Harlemite, delving into tensions spanning friendship, complicity, transaction, and responsibility between photographer and subject.

With thanks to the BFI National TV Archive

This event is part of Film Feels Curious, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.

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