Herz Frank (1926-2013), a Latvian/Israeli documentary film-maker and founding member of the Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema, died earlier this week at the age of 87.
Among his many films is the iconic Ten Minutes Older (1978), filmed in a single shot, showing a little boy’s facial expressions during a puppet show, the stage of which is never revealed to the viewer.
“The first rule of a documentary filmmaker is: Have the patience to observe life!” Frank once said. “If you are observant, if you look not only with your eyes, but also with your heart, the life, for sure, will present you with some particular discovery. Then, the reality recorded by you will gain the artistic value, become in line with art, and will always excite people. The facts and events can become old. They can become history. The feelings we felt regarding those events stay with us. Therefore, art is the only living bridge between people of various generations, between time periods.”
Frank’s interest in figurative film-making styles, and his search for the essence of the documentary subject are written about in his book Ptolemy’s Map – A Documentary Film Maker’s Sketches. His films’ contemplation of time has gone on to inspire film-makers from all over the world. The 2002 film project Ten Minutes Older, featuring work by Aki Kaurismäki, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Jean-Luc Godard, and many others, was dedicated to Herz Frank and his camera-man Juris Podnieks, who shot the original film of the same name.