Frame By Frame

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The legendary American photojournalist W. Eugene Smith once said of his profession that it was “documentary photography with a purpose.” Like Smith, whose work has been celebrated worldwide for its humanism, the four photojournalists featured in Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli’s gripping first feature Frame By Frame are resolute in their commitment to ending — or at least easing — the pain of their fellow Afghanis through image-based reportage. One by one we meet the charismatic main subjects of this documentary — Massoud Hossaini, Wakil Kohsar, Najibullah Musafer, and Farzana Wahidy — who are but a few of the many visual artists and members of the press given a new lease on life after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan drove the Taliban from power in 2001. Now, with new threats being posed by a resurgent fundamentalist insurgency, these and other recorders of human rights abuses assume an increasingly central place in local attempts to fight tyranny with truth. Displaying both courage and caution in the face of adversity, they are aware of the inherent shortcomings of their chosen medium and profession, in terms of their limited ability to affect actual social or political change in a country still desperate for reform. But they, like this film’s talented directorial team (who were granted unprecedented access to people and places largely unseen by most Westerners), display the empathy necessary in overcoming apathy or hopelessness. Raw and wrenching but also cathartic, the artfully lensed Frame By Frame is as hauntingly beautiful as the photographs taken by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hossaini, a testament to Bombach and Scarpelli’s instinctive understanding of their own chosen medium.

– By David Scott Diffrient


Alexandria Bombach & Mo Scarpelli
85 minutes


Wednesday, April 19
4:30 p.m.
Lincoln Center Magnolia Theatre