Wednesday, 12 December 2012

"Beyond" Varanasi Documentary: Cale Glendening





For 12/12/12 (the so-called end of days or whatever it's called), I've featured the trailer (for those with limited time or a short attention span) as well as the full length (43 minutes  of “BEYOND”. A documentary by filmmaker Cale Glendening which features photographer Joey L. and his assistant Ryan McCarney as they complete their latest photo series “Holy Men” in the ancient city of Varanasi.

Beautiful film work, and interesting insight as to how Joey L. works in the field, amongst ancient cultures and with atypical characters as the Aghori sadhus...one of whom speaks almost fluent English. It's also interesting to see how Joey L., a young Canadian commercial photographer, goes about his craft. He's seen working with a medium format digital Phase One camera and portable softboxes.

Very much more commercial (or fashion photographic) work than travel photography, and one that consumes a lot of planning, time and effort. It's gratifying that Joey and his teammates realize the value of making a connection, and friendships, before starting to shoot their camera flashes in the faces of their subjects.

But I'm not sure what to make of the Aghori sadhus who were photographed and filmed here in this documentary.

The Aghori, mostly ascetic sadhus, are a Shaivite Hindu sect, known for violating typical Indian and other social mores, and for unorthodox, taboo rituals such as cannibalism of corpses and using skulls as drinking vessels. My understanding is that they shun the company of others, and follow secret rituals...with no interest in notoriety or publicity of any sort.

So I'm a little puzzled by the two Aghoris appearing in this documentary, throwing some flammable stuff in a small bonfire and holding a skull.

In any event, it makes for good viewing.