Zackary Canepari

Flint is a Place

Best Daily Life Story

Flint is a Place by Zackary Canepari.

Best Daily Life Story Gomma Grant 2016.

"Flint is a place is an episodic documentary series that seeks to explore a specific moment within this American city in an intimate, character driven way. While it is not aiming to solve Flint's issues, the project will change our understanding of them. For nearly a decade I've been working as a visual storyteller.

Primarily as a photographer and a filmmaker but on many different platforms - everything from short documentary series to photography books to online mixed media to virtual reality. Ultimately my work is rooted in documentary storytelling but it takes influences from narrative filmmaking, music and literature. Whether it's photo essays or feature documentaries or archival materials, I've found that being versatile and experimental has allowed me to tell the stories that I'm interested in.

The process of discovering my relationship to documentary storytelling is what led me to Flint in the first place. I'm interested in how ridiculous and terrible what has happened to this city is. There's something surreal and unbelievable about a place of 100,000 people snarled in this much drama and the work here is meant to convey what it feels like on the ground. Flint no longer needs an introduction after this past year and it probably hasn't needed one for the past 30 years.

The city has long been the poster child for the American dream gone wrong. Between Michael Moore and the Water Crisis, everyone knows what to expect when they hear the name "Flint". Economic, political and social dysfunction. In a perfect world, this project would be conveying some other reality; it would show you another story. But these ideas about Flint are accurate. Flint is a place of struggle. It's true and everybody knows it. But that's not all it is.

The photographs submitted here are meant to highlight the diversity of the work. Some of it is traditional reportage like the image of little Hazel being bathed in bottled water by her grandmother. Some of it is studio portraiture like the police officers in the stark black background or the prom students and their strong style choices. The found photos were all discovered in vacant homes in Flint and the big grid of monochromatic faces are made of the various citizens I've met over the past 5 years. Each chapter will feature a unique approach to push the viewer to see this place in more than one way. Overall the goal is to create a tone or feeling about what it feels like in Flint.

What happens in Flint happens in many other urban American cities. But in Flint, it happens all at once. It's what makes Flint so important in the national conversation. It's like a testing zone for American mismanagement. Eventually, something will have to change. Flint can't go on like this. Better seems really far-fetched. Worse seems almost unimaginable. Crazy as it seems people will be there no matter what. Cause they're proud. Or cause they're stuck.

Flint is a failed place. With a lot of character. That's the part of the story that I want to focus on. Somewhere between those two facts is reality. " ZC

Flint is a Place. Shot in Michigan, USA.
Zackary Canepari

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