“Time Zero” covers the last year of Polaroid film, those who mourned its demise and those who tried to save it.
As a culture we seem to revel in a kind of collective nostalgia, reliving past fashion trends and remaking old TV shows and movies. As photographers we are no different—look no further than the explosive popularity of billion dollar retro-filter photo app Instagram for proof. It’s no surprise then, that when once innovator Polaroid discontinued their trademark instant film in 2008 the wistful movement to bring it back began almost immediately.
When Polaroid’s SX-70 was announced in April 1972 it was cutting edge, but as with most technological advances, it seem widely out dated decades later, especially with the proliferation of digital images. The novelty of instantly seeing your photos may have waned enough to justify the shuttering of production, but the unique look and feel of Polaroid’s photos had a fan base that wasn’t so quick to let the outdated technology die.
One of the Polaroid diehards, Asutrian Florian Kaps, spearheaded an effort to buy a shuttered Polaroid factory in the Netherlands and restart production. His Impossible Project now sells new film for classic Polaroid cameras and operates gallery-stores in multiple countries. With vintage Polaroid cameras and Impossible film for sale at places like Urban Outfitters, the Impossible Project, has even helped foster a new generation of fans that don’t remember the first wave of popularity.
This death and unexpected rebirth of Polaroid is the subject of a new documentary called Time Zero from Grant Hamilton, another Polaroid enthusiast. The film is premiering April 28 at the Independent Film Festival at the Somerville Theater in Somerville, Mass. The theater is three miles from the company’s former headquarters. Check out the trailer below.