The Forgotten Space

Reviews and Interviews
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Review - Mike Hoolboom

Mike Hoolboom, 2010

“An epic view and urgent analysis of the follies of global capitalism, The Forgotten Space is a prime example of essayistic and political cinema. It creates a complex tapestry of powerful images and language.”

Full Review - English

Film Comment - Tales from the Darkside

Olaf Moller, November 2010

“To say that the subject of The Forgotten Space is the global transformation of labor caused by container cargo shipping is like saying that Wagon Master is a Western. noël Burch and Allan Sekula’s essay film is a journey around the world, to the ports of Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Bilbao-each a trove of stories, encounters, and observations at times angry and at times wry. The whole thing is held together by Sekula’s adventure-happy, politically astute, partisan commentary, which itself is a masterpiece of nonfiction.”

Full Article - English

Review - Il Manifesto

Christina Piccino, 2010

"In The Forgotten Space, Noël Burch, film-maker and theoretician of the cinema, and Allan Sekula, experimenter in images, set out to discover in the sea and its symbolism, the logic of today’s world economy. The movement of the waves, remembered only when disaster strikes, the movement of barges, of containers carried by huge ships between Asia and Europe by low-cost Chinese shippers. And those “forgotten spaces” where we hear the voices of California truck-drivers or Dutch farmers robbed of their land. The two directors have interspersed the present with archival memories, explosive intrusions of old movies, producing a magnificent example of political – and essayistic – cinema, built on imagery, with a form appropriate to the substance which it tackles. And with no rhetorical gestures, which is not an easy matter when dealing with human labour."

Review - L'Unita

L'Unita, 2010

"This festival did not offer many glimpses of reality. It was almost over – today the awards will be announced – when one of the most interesting documentaries in the Orrizzonti selection was shown. This was The Forgotten Space by Noël Burch and Allan Sekula’s, two itinerant American film-makers who, since the seventies, have devoted themselves to documentary experimentation. In this latest work, of high visual potential, we accompany them on a long “sea journey” through the globalized world, following the cargo-container, which symbolizes the globalized economy. We follow the containers on ships, barges, trains and trucks as they cover the planet, dictating the new laws of distribution. And, above all we listen to the voices of those who have been cast aside by the system: farmers in Belgium and Holland obliged to give up their land, truckers in Los Angeles on starvation wages, seafarers “sentenced” to perpetual crossings between Asia ad Europe. “Our assumption”, the directors say, “is that the sea is still the crucial space of globalization. It is here that the confusion, the violence and the alienation of contemporary capitalism are most evident.” Which The Forgotten Space amply demonstrates."

Review - Sentieri Selvaggi

Pietro Masciulo, 2010

“The Forgotten Space is the reality of our daily lives: the abolition of distances engendered by our era, governed by notions of instantaneous communication, by cyberspace and the new media. A network of permanent global contacts which once again forcefully raises the problems posed by the transportation of the goods, the objects that are submerging us. The sea has become a (generally forgotten) territory colonized by the needs of Western humanity, travelled goods crammed into containers that have become the symbol of modern civilization.”

Full Review - Italian

Review - Variety

Jay Weissberg, September 2010

“A few classic movie clips speak to Burch's position as grand old man of film theory, and several striking images, especially the mosaic pattern of multicolored containers on a ship's prow, are appealing.”

Full Review - English

Interview - Noël Burch

ORF, Alexander Musik, 2010

"The Forgotten Space" ist ein Filmessay mit eindrucksvollen Bildern, erhellenden Interviews und einem oft professoralen Off-Kommentar über das Innenleben großer Containerschiffe und automatisierter Hafenanlagen, vor allem aber über das Leben der Menschen im Hinterland der ohne Rücksicht immer weiter ausgebauten Großhäfen."

Full Interview - German

Review-The New York Times

A.O.Scott, February 2012

“The Forgotten Space,” an engrossing and provocative essay film by Noël Burch and Allan Sekula, approaches the sea from the opposite direction. Neither as chaotic nor as romantic as it may have appeared to our ancestors or to Auden, the modern sea of this documentary has come fully under the sway of global capitalism."

Full Review - English

Review-Moving Image Source

A.O.Scott, April 2008

“I'm sure that I learned a lot more from The Forgotten Space—an essay film by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch about sea cargo in the contemporary global economy—than I did from any other feature that I saw last year, fiction or nonfiction. In more ways than one, I'm still learning from it, and its lessons start with the staggering but elemental fact that over 90 percent of the world's cargo still travels by sea—a fact that seems all the more important precisely because so many of us don't know it."

Full Review - English

Review - Neerlands Filmdoek

Guido Franken, November 2010

“… Burch and Sekula have provided the documentary with some marvelous images that are not only visually convincing, but also have a striking metaphorical function.”

Full Review - Dutch

De zee is de pispot van het kapitalisme

NRC, Tracy Metz, Februari 2011

“The Forgotten Space is een twee uur lang epos waarvoor de makers de hele wereld afreisden. Van Los Angeles tot Hongkong en van Rot- terdam tot Bilbao, ze komen over- al en praten met iedereen: Chinese fabrieksmeisjes, de Indonesische zeeman, de machinist op de Betu- welijn, de Amerikaanse daklozen die zelf niet begrijpen hoe het zo ver heeft kunnen komen."

Full Review - Dutch

Trojaans Paard aan Boord

Filmkrant, Mariska Graveland, 2010

“In het filmessay the forgotten space reizen filmmaker Allan Sekula en filmtheoreticus noël Burch in het kielzog van containerschepen, om de effecten van globalisering te onderzoeken.”

Full Review - Dutch

Eerder Poetisch dan Polemisch

Volkskrant, Pauline Kleijer, November 2010

“While politically driven, the message of the filmmakers is never pushy. The Forgotten Space is primarily investigative in nature. From the port of Rotterdam to a modern seamen hostel in Hong Kong, Sekula and Burch capture exceptional scenes, often more poetic than polemical.”

Full Review - Dutch

Review - Movie 2 Movie

Bram Semeijn, November 2010

“De prachtige beelden en het oog voor het menselijke verhaal achter zoiets abstracts als de globalisering maken deze film een must om te zien."

Full Review - Dutch

Wie redt de zee van de mens?

NRC, Dana Linssen, November 2010

“We protect ourselves against the sea with dikes, but who protects the sea against the people and their economy? That is the premise of the excellent documentary essay by the American writer / photographer / filmmaker Allan Sekula and the French film critic noël Burch. ” (4 stars out of 5)

Full Review - Dutch