Documentary, 112′, Color/BW, Germany, 2024
Director Nathaniel Knop
Supported by Hessen Film und Medien
The photographer who fooled the KGB, exhibited portraits at MOMA, stopped photographing people, and became a brilliant master of landscape.
The captivating portrait of a photographer’s journey through the vibrant New York of ’68, a Russian society on the brink of war, and the majestic Adirondack Mountains.
The landmark exhibition „Photography in the USA,“ which brought Nathan Farb to Siberia for the first time in 1977, served as a powerful harbinger of the waning Cold War era; it not only marked Nathan’s first photobook success, but also secured his rightful place in the photography collections of MOMA and the Getty.
Following Nathan as he embarks on another expedition to rediscover and capture the essence of the protagonists of ’77 just before Russia invades Ukraine, the film captures a poignant snapshot of a Russian society on the brink of war.
At the same time, the photographer’s own personality materializes in the film – a compelling portrait shaped by his encounters amidst the bustling milieu of New York or the freezing backdrop of Novosibirsk, and against the nature’s grandeur of the Adirondack Mountains.
I attempt to carefully immerse the viewer in an enchanting exploration of an artist’s life. As the focus shifts between the external subjects and the photographer himself, the layers of Nathan Farb’s being are gradually peeled away, revealing the profound impact of his interactions with people and nature. Influences from other photographers, such as Diane Arbus, Berenice Abbott, and August Sander, become apparent, enriching Farb’s perspective.
Blurring conventional documentary genres, from road movie to portrait to political thriller (considering the war Putin’s Russia will launch shortly after the second photo shoot in Siberia), the film project defies categorization.