Wim Wenders co-directed this documentary about Sebastião Salgadowith the photographer’s son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, bringing “an outsider’s view” to a wealth of extant footage and photos. From stunning images of the gold mines of Serra Pelada (“I had travelled to the dawn of time”), to the horrors of famine in the Sahel and genocide in Rwanda (“We humans are a terrible animal… our history is a history of war”), and ultimately to the rebirth of the “Genesis” project, The Salt of the Earth finds Salgado revisiting and confronting his turbulent past.
Speaking to Wenders while gazing at – and sometimes through – his back catalogue, Salgado proves an adept and compassionate storyteller, his training as an economist providing sociopolitical insight into the suffering (manmade rather than natural) that threatens to engulf his work. “Everybody should see this image,” he says at one point, although the unspeakable sights captured by his camera prove so unbearable that one is all but forced to look away. Elsewhere, footage of Salgado with Papua’s Yali tribe or the Amazonian Zo’é of Brazil offer a more uplifting portrait of humanity, while the reforestation of the Instituto Terrasuggests that all may not yet be lost.