"Revealed: Portraits from Beneath One's Surface"
“Dear 'This I Believe' participants,
Upon examining my relationship with my own spirituality, I wanted to learn how other people connect with their sense of self. My intentions were to photograph spirituality from a non-literal perspective. I wanted to peel back the layers of traditional spirituality and focus on the individual's personal essence.
I presented my subjects with a small wooden box and asked them in advance of the photography session to bring items that represented their spiritual experience in which to fill the space. The concept of identity and the awareness of a higher existence quickly evolved into a vessel of self-exploration and quiet confession. I soon discovered that my subjects shared far more ... the works I am selecting for publication illustrate my subjects' responses to the project, as well as the inadvertent disclosures of their most subtle hopes and fears.
What I find to be most interesting is the profound effect this project has had on so many of my subjects. Given the opportunity to look within, many experienced a journey that took them much deeper than their initial inner self-examination, revealing undiscovered truths about themselves.
Scott Indermaur, photographer”
For those unfamiliar with "This I Believe" (as I was, before viewing "Revealed"), it is a collection of essays from men and women, young and old, in which they discuss the values that dictate the course of their lives, and in turn, who they are as human beings. The concept dates as far back as the 1950's but has become more prevalent since 2004.
As the letter above suggests, photographer Scott Indermaur had the idea to photograph these essayists, hoping to capture their spirituality and values on film. It seems like an impossible task, attempting to capture a non-tangible idea on film, yet one look at the photographs would suggest otherwise. By asking his subjects to fill an empty wooden box with whatever means they see fit to reflect 'who they are', Indermaur somehow manages to capture the very essence of every individual involved, making for some truly stirring and contemplative photography. I suggest you visit the website and see for yourself. The photography is simply breathtaking. http://www.revealedproject.com/
I am however, a film critic, and not here to give my thoughts so much on alternative mediums, however, I believe it is important to relay to you, the open-minded & presumably intelligent audience (attractive too, I bet), the correlations between both the film and its source photography, so as to better explain why the film is so unbelievably successful.
There's no denying that Indermaur is an incredibly capable photographer, as his photographs will no doubt attach themselves in some manner to both your heart and mind, but the film's focus is the people in the photographs. Director Christian De Rezendes captures 11 of these subjects within the documentary, spending time with each over the course of this 40-minute short documentary. Doing the math, that would work out to an average of less than 4 minutes per subject, yet somehow each person is represented as a unique, but sympathetic individual, and remarkably, De Rezendes manages to make them feel like real people, not simply representing a single facet of their personality. They have both wonderful and depessing stories, and their motives for filling the boxes the way they do is often very moving.
It is with these people that the film finds its most significant successes, as their stories act as an extension of their photographs. It never seems as though it was envisioned as an afterthought to Indermaur's "Revealed" photography, yet more a compliment. To me it seems as though it was conceived with the intent of further enabling the audience to identify with the subjects, and perhaps instigate a little bit of self reflection amongst its viewers.
Indermaur writes, "Given the opportunity to look within, many experienced a journey that took them much deeper than their initial inner self-examination, revealing undiscovered truths about themselves." Christian De Rezendes has miraculously translated this 'journey' to the audience, as it is very likely impossible to sit through "Revealed" without beginning to wonder 'what would I put in that box?' Perhaps you have nothing, or perhaps your life holds more substance than you ever realized. Who knows? What I do know is that no one's box will ever be the same, and the fact that the film can suggest we maybe spend a little time figuring out who we are, without ever seeming even the slightest bit heavy-handed is an incredible feat.
I feel as though I could discuss the merits of "Revealed" for hours, but doing so seems unnecessary to me. "Revealed" is a film that needs to be experienced, not simply read about, and I simply can't do the film justice with words alone. This is intelligent filmmaking with a deeply human core, and I won't hesitate to suggest that everyone should see this film.