The world premiere of Chevolution at the Tribeca Film Festival is an important moment! I have spent the last five years with this photograph - first as a photo exhibition, then as book and now a film. Each medium is different, so you have to really be interested in the material to stay with it through all these incarnations. After all this time, our film will finally be shown publicly.
The famous portrait of Che Guevara, "Guerrillero Heroico," was taken in 1960 by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda. Over decades, this image has become iconic. It has moved way beyond just being a portrait of this man, evolving into a symbol, to an image that has crossed the globe. And on this journey of time and space, the photo's meaning has shifted and changed according to its context. Chevolution traces that phenomenon and explores those contradictions.
You've probably seen Che's photo many times, most likely on a t-shirt. People wear the image for all kinds of reasons. To some, Che is saint-like. People quote from his writings and aspire to his belief systems. To others it's a generic symbol of rebellion, anti-establishment. And for many, the image has become so diluted, it's just a hip and cool looking t-shirt. A lot of younger people don't even know who it is they are wearing across their chests. We live in a culture today where understanding symbols doesn't necessary matter. It's just another symbol, whether it's this photo, a hammer and sickle, a star, Mao's head on a badge...
It's extraordinary that one single frame taken with a 35mm camera provoked all this. That is the power of photography. Korda, while he knew he had taken a great portrait, could not have predicted what would happen to his photograph. Not only has the image become a commercial brand of sorts, it has been interpreted by artists and graphic designers who have made their own works commenting on Korda's vision of Che: Pedro Meyer, Vik Muñiz, Shepard Fairey, Patrick Thomas.
I think Che Guevara's significance in modern times is less about the man and his specific history, and more about the ideals of creating a better society. I think that is the power of this image. Whether we agree with his vision or not, Che lived and died for his principles and he stood by his vision.
Currently, I'm working on another documentary -- this time not one image, but a body of work. It's where I live, if you like. I guess I am less a filmmaker than someone who is able to makes sense of a photograph through filmmaking. Chevolution has opened up new doors for me, new ways of telling stories about photos.
Fri, Apr 25, 6:30PM
AMC 19th St. East Theater 3
Sun, Apr 27, 1:30PM
AMC 19th St. East Theater 1
Mon, Apr 28, 9:00PM
AMC Village VII Theater 4
Wed, Apr 30, 12:45PM
AMC 19th St. East Theater 3
Check out the Tribeca Film Festival website for more information.
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