Almost everyone at Visa pour l’Image climbs onto the rickety bleachers each night for the outdoor slideshow (translated, like everything else at the festival, instantaneously by way of remote headsets — ingenious). Monday night was quiet since most people had not arrived yet and those who had were still battling jet lag. The slideshows begin with pictures from day’s biggest news stories, narrated by festival director Jean-Francois Leroy, followed by a review of the biggest news events of the year in two-month installments…last night was September and October 2007. Finally we viewed 14 photo projects. I hear they improve as the week progresses, but a few were intriguing, if a little visually weak compared to the masterworks in the exhibitions. My two favorites dealt with women’s roles in incredibly male-dominated cultures. First, Robert Wallis (with Panos – Cosmos) followed several women in Rajasthan, India. They were making incredible contributions to their communities, especially one who traveled the countryside showing women how to build solar-electricity panels. The second was a story by Orizon’s Alain Buu (above), who shows that since boys have been selected for, for so long in China, now girls are becoming more valued because there are not enough wives to go around.
As is the custom, I ended the night at the cafe just down the street from the projection area. It was a mellow evening for Perpignan; people started clearing out around 1am and I was in bed an hour later. I surely won’t get as much sleep any other night.