Introducing cinematographer Sarah Blum, a new member of the AFC

By Agnès Godard, AFC, and Claire Mathon, AFC
Recently admitted to the AFC, cinematographer Sarah Blum is presented here by her two AFC sponsors, Agnès Godard and Claire Mathon, in the same words they used in support of her application for membership to the members of the association’s board of directors.

The Images that Sarah Blum is able to create with a camera, by Agnès Godard, AFC
I met Sarah during a day at La Fémis dedicated to women behind the camera, a wonderful event organized by the Femmes à la Caméra collective. It was a cheerful and dynamic encounter that made me want more. So, I started out by watching Sarah’s images. Her work on shorts and documentaries with Alice Diop particularly stood out. I found in them a rigor and a precision that impressed me. Whether the camera was still or in motion, I felt that what I was being shown was so complete that I didn’t need to see any more in order to enter the intimacy of the people depicted on screen.
Everything was there, bit by bit, their past, their present that so brilliantly led the viewer to wonder about their future, in the footsteps of Alice Diop. I was bearing witness to their lives, I was accessing everything that their existence had made with them and against them : their story. The delicate quality of the lighting and the generous camera framing showed these people in all their dignity.
We remained in contact and last spring we shared a great time together at a café.
Sarah told me about her recent shoot in Serbia, in partnership with Lousie Botkay on a film by Vladimir Perisic, shot in Super 16 in Serbia and presented at the Critics’ Week this year at Cannes. Her description of her engagement on the film, the way it came together, the work with the director and other stakeholders, and her taste for risk and for film itself, all made me feel enthusiastic. She was bracingly solid.
When I saw the film, I found in it what I myself had seen in the Balkans when I shot there : the light in the countryside, interiors, the physiognomy of that part of Europe and its inhabitants. Once again, whether the camera was fixed or in motion, the images were always choreographed. They reveal what Sarah knows how to do with a camera.
I intuited her desire to join the AFC and when I mentioned it, she said that she would let me know when she felt ready.
That day is now. And I have no doubt she is totally ready.

The right time for Sarah Blum to join the AFC, by Claire Mathon, AFC
I met Sarah Blum about 12 years ago. She had graduated from the INSAS several years prior. She was asking herself questions and looking for people to talk them over with. As I remember, she had a physical relationship to the image, she was sensitive to that living material. I have continued to follow her work : from No Land’s Song, by Ayat Najafi, to Alice Diop’s Vers la tendresse, and most recently, Lost Country, by Vladimir Perisic, screened this year at the Critics’ Week. I felt her desire to experiment, to explore the boundaries between genres, cultures, and languages, between documentary, the visual arts, and fiction. And I think, above all, she wants to accompany each of the films she works on without preconceived notions, as though it were a first meeting.
Sarah enjoys sharing, implicating herself, learning from others, going towards others.
Watching Lost Country, I recognized that special way and pleasure of being one with the image. This beautiful fiction feature is a new step in her career, rich and full of promise and so it seems to me that this is the right time for her to join the AFC.