Memories of a lifetime of images

    SENSE: In preparation for eye surgery, Mark Cousins explores the role that visual experience plays in our individual and collective lives.

    The pandemic era has generated the conditions for a new kind of personal vulnerability and existential reflection to enter the creative sphere. Public space has been curtailed, with lockdowns forcing individuals to take a pause from the endless distractions of entertainment and the group-focused solidarity of community engagement and enter into a more introspective solitude. Uncertainty over the global course of the coronavirus, and anxiety over illness and mortality, has raised the stakes of this enforced, insular contemplation, fuelling an urgency in searches for what it all means and heightened examination of life choices and trajectories. The Story of Looking, a new documentary from Northern Irish writer and filmmaker Mark Cousins, exemplifies this shift away from the grand-scale, outward-looking and institutional. It screens in the latest edition of the Helsinki festival DocPoint, which has moved fully online due to a Covid surge in Finland. Cousins, a passionate cinephile, is best-known for his fifteen-hour deep dive into the history of cinema, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which, while also idiosyncratic and personal, weaves together through archival clips the image-based tradition of the movies into a shared compendium . . .

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    Carmen Gray
    Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
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