BLACK PASSPORT PROPOSAL

BLACK PASSPORT is a proposed documentary film about Stanley Greene, artist, poet and a renowned photojournalist, a legendary figure among war photographers and one of the few African-Americans encompassing every major world conflict for the past 25 years. Acclaimed images he created in Chechnya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Serbia, as well as in post-Katrina New Orleans, are testament to that commitment and to his belief that photography is a way of making sense of the world and, in doing so, helping to change it for the better. 

Stanley Greene’s work has been featured in media outlets throughout the world – Time Magazine, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Associated Press, Vogue, Paris Match, La Monde, the London Times, and Die Welt are just a few. His career has been profiled by NPR (The World), PBS, (the Tavis Smiley Show) in the United States, Arte (Tracks), Hromadske.TV, in Europe. Greene is the author of published works of writing and photos: Open Wound Chechnya 1994-2004, Black Passport, (2012) and The Western Front (2016). His awards include: five World Press Photo awards; the Lifetime Achievement Visa d’Or Award (2016); the Prix International Planéte (2011), Albert Kahn, W. Eugene Smith Award (2004) awards among others. 

A founding member of NOOR photography agency (Amsterdam, NL), Greene died from an illness he contracted in the field. His obituaries included accolades in the New York Times, Time magazine, the New Yorker magazine, the Guardian and the Washington Post. He is acknowledged to be one of the greatest war photographers of this era. 

Stanley Greene was my friend and sometimes collaborator since 1974. We studied together at the San Francisco Art Institute during the 70s, travelled across the country, shared love and pain with each other for more than 40 years. In 2015, I started a series of personal interviews with Greene at his home in Paris. I followed him throughout his haunts in Paris, and Amsterdam, interviewed photographers at NOOR, the agency that he started with Kadir van Lohuizen in 2007, interviewed admirers and distractors and acquired his entire library of images for our film. I followed up with interviews in 2016 and was planning a third trip when his untimely death from cancer occurred in May 2017. 

BLACK PASSPORT (based on the title of the acclaimed book by Greene), will be a departure for me: This is will be a personal documentary that employs cinema verité techniques in black and white wide-screen, referencing the style of Greene’s best known work. It will be a broadcast-length documentary that will be based on interviews culled from over 10 hours of personal talks with Greene in his apartment in Paris. We filmed extensive interviews with NOOR members fellow photographers describing their war zone experiences with Greene, his motivation, struggles, and drive. Other sequences will employ cinéma vérité techniques that we filmed with Greene in Paris. Greene’s photographs will tie the entire film together, along with his observations, poetry and commentary about his life. With support and co-production funds we will film more interviews and photography with critics, editors and those who knew him best in France, Holland, Germany and the United States. BLACK PASSPORT will expand and add personal context to Greene’s body of published and coveted images spanning his career: his work as a child-actor in New York, early photography with the punk scene in San Francisco 1970s-80s, followed by his expatriation to France in the 1986, and his observations about work as a “conflict” photographer. 

Filmed in state-of-the-art 4k video and Dolby digital stereo audio, BLACK PASSPORT will be presented in wide-screen black and white for possible theatrical as well as television audiences. 

Despite his death in 2016, Stanley Greene’s beautiful, agonizing and truth-filled photographs remain as important today as they were when first published. They are timeless, a message to humanity about the fragility of life. 

Contact: Ashley James
searchlightfilms@me.com

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