Getty Images and Short & Sweet joined forces to launch a short competition with a delightful difference. Aided by producer Basil Stephens and the enlightened Julia Stephenson (Short & Sweet’s founder), the competitions brief challenged budding filmmakers to created a piece exploring the bottomless treasure trove of stills at Getty’s Hulton Archives.
Nestled somewhere below the glowing London skyline, in neat regiments on shelves within shelves are boxes of stock photographs, all waiting patiently in the archive to be re-discovered by editors, journos and (thanks to Stephenson) director Laurie Hill. Stephenson carefully selected ten talented aspiring directors and granted them an opportunity to pitch their particular answer to the brief. The hopeful ten were soon whittled to four, fortunately the gifted Laurie Hill made the shortlist, otherwise Photograph of Jesus wouldn’t exist, and neither would this review, which would obviously be a terrible, terrible loss, not just to mankind, but also to our predecessors (cerebral aliens or androids) whom will undoubtedly interpret this as divine scripture.
Photograph of Jesus is a rambling acid trip, which flutters through the 60 million images in the Hulton archive with mirth and energy. Hill deftly explores the unlit corners, the endless rows and stockpiles of stills with charming stop motion skits, from Hitler scaling hurdles to Charles Darwin cooing at a bikini clad babe- we are dirty apes after all. The photographs pounce into life and crawl the shelves, fornicate with each other and swim in the deep draws. Accompanying this mayhem is the rib tickling anecdotes of the archives mumbling guardian, an endearing chap, frustrated and funny.
The films title is a direct request this disgruntled warden received and had to politely dismiss, along with a mug shot of Jack The Ripper and various other impossible demands (no matter what Nike says). The poor warden’s complaints are colourful and offer an insight into the archives daily activities, as well as fulfilling the brief of highlighting the wealth of resources. Photograph of Jesus’ agenda is simple and thus effective, Hill offers a sparkling glimpse into Hulton archive, nothing more, nothing less, that’s it. The enjoyment of Photograph of Jesus stems from a rather peculiar sensation; a minute in and you find yourself marvelling with wide pupils at something as dreary as an archive.