Director Théo Court’s second feature film – Blanco en Blanco (White on White, 2019) – is his return to the study of photography, which he has also studied before his career in film. Blanco en Blanco is a film about the relationship of photography to colonialism and patriarchal gaze.
At the heart of the story is photographer Pedro – who has been invited to Tierra del Fuego’s cold rugged landscapes to take portraits of a landowner Mr. Porter and his young bride – Sara. However, Pedro gets more excited about portraying Sara than would be best for him – and very soon, Mr. Porter’s guards are striking him out. After being rejected by Mr. Porter, Pedro allies with Porter’s employees and begins to record the ongoing genocide of the Selk’nam people to earn a living. The film is a stagnant composition of colonialist and patriarchal relations that shows us a process of aestheticizing oppression. This makes the film at the same time a chillingly disturbing and startlingly beautiful experience- on the one hand, the images roll in front of the viewer in aesthetically perfect settings, and on the other hand, what happens in them fills the viewer with anxiety.
Blanco en Blanco is a film that does not offer its viewers a moral sense of purification or visions of justice, but perhaps it can teach us to look more consciously at the processes of aestheticizing colonialist violence.
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S.A Hakkarainen is a Finnish filmmaker and creative director of Kreatos Films- a production company specializing in social impact video productions.