During the year of 1929, Ivens received an invitation to show his films and to lecture at the club house of the Metro construction workers in Moscow. After having shown Zuiderzee, a worker stood up from the audience and confronted him: "You say you are from the middle class, yet the film we have seen was surely made with the eyes of a worker. I know, because it is exactly the way i see the work. So, either you are a liar and bought the film in Holland from somebody or else you are a worker pretending to be from the middle class - and that is certainly not necessary here in a worker's and peasant state,". Ivens took it as a higher compliment and asked him, "Where in my film do you see the work shown exactly as you see it?"
"Several places," he said, "especially in that heavy stone work on the dike. I have done that kind of work."
"I see what you mean. I can explain how i filmed that sequence. I could not find the right angle of my camera on this stone work. So i started watching the work to see how it begins, how it ends, what its rithym is; but still a could not find my camera angle. Then i tried to move the heavy basalt stones myself because i thought it would be valuable to get the actual feel of the work before filming it. I soon became exhausted because i wasn't used to the work, but i found out what i wanted to know (...)"

Quotations taken from The Camera and I (Seven Seas Books, Berlin, 1969)

By Pedro Tavares


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