The Man Who Saw Too Much

Through the lens of Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides, desire and the macabre become entwined

The Man Who Saw Too Much What drives someone to pursue scenes of death and suffering? From the age of nine, cinephile Enrique Metinides was photographing corpses in the street. Despite his age, this passion soon landed him a job in the tabloids, where he was given license to follow his morbid obsession. Through his work we explore Mexico City, as seen through the prism of its crime scenes, and delve into the human fascination with the macabre.

"Relentless and calm in its presentation of a crafted, photographic universe of pain." - Variety

"The job of the reporter is to tell the news, even when it hurts us." Furiously dedicated to his work, Metinides has been photographing crime and accident scenes since elementary school, when he caught his first image of a corpse on film. What began as a child's hobby inspired by weekend trips to the movies, evolved into a lifelong passion and 'mission' when Metinides was taken under the wing of tabloid photographer Antonio Velazquez, and inducted into the police force. Since then, Metinides has not lived a day without his radio, waiting for a call to action.

But the job is not without its struggles. Metinides has endured countless near-death experiences, repeatedly intervening to rescue victims, as he strives to document the truest depiction of disastrous events. He and other photographers like him have faced harsh criticism for 'taking advantage of the pain of strangers.' As one newspaper vendor puts it, "These images help sell the papers, people like to see these things,"; 'things' some would rather forget. But Metinides and his colleagues play a necessary role in raising awareness of these desperate situations and doing something about it. "If we don't publish that information. We fool ourselves and we fool the world."

At an exhibition in New York, spectators stop and gaze open-mouthed at Metinides' photos. Reams of art world fans will testify to an aesthetic merit in Metinides' images that extends beyond their role as factual document. The art collector Michael Hoppen describes a picture of a writer killed in a car crash as 'beautiful': "one of the best pictures I have ever seen by anyone of tragedy." And indeed it is tragedy, 'the birth of a bad memory' that Metinides has captured all these years. Producing pictures that you can't look away from on an unprecedented scale, his collection is as comprehensive and meticulous as the model figures of ambulances and policemen that crowd his house.

But what has he learnt from so many years spent putting his own life in the path of danger for the sake of journalism? He says the scale of violence now is otherworldly, the newspapers do not publish such photos because "the country would suffer." The country may be protected from these sights, but Metinides is not. In constant pursuit of the 'whole story in one picture,' this mind-blowing new biopic peeks into the world of a hero who's witnessed more horrors than he can count.

Laurel Official Selection - Hot Docs 2016
Laurel Official Selection - FICM
Laurel Official Selection - AFI
Laurel Ariel 2015 WINNER - Best Documentary, Best Original Score
Laurel 13th Moriela International Film Festival - Guerrerro Press Award

Please Note: This film is not available for broadcast rights in United States

The Producers

TRISHA ZIFF is originally from England and today is a Mexican citizen. She has worked for the last twenty-five years as a writer, editor, curator and documentary film maker, focusing on themes related to the photographic image. In 2008 Ziff co-directed Chevolution for Netflix and executive produced 9 months and 9 days, directed by Ozcar Ramirez Gonzalez. She is the director and producer of The Mexican Suitcase (2011) and The Man Who Saw Too Much (2016), the winner of two Arieles (Mexican Academy Awards) for best documentary and best score (2016). Ziff is currently in production on her next film, Witkin & Witkin, a study on the identical twins, photographer Joel Peter and his brother painter, Jerome. She is also working on Return to Oaxacalifornia, a film about Mexican identity in the United States. Trisha teaches film and media studies and guest lectures at various universities in the U.S., Mexico and Europe.

Making The Film

The Man Who Saw Too Much was filmed in Mexico City primarily with additional shoots in New York and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles we filmed Dan Gilroy director of Night Crawler, talking about the fictional version of our character. Enrique Metinides. The film was shot over four years working with both Enrique Metinides and the contemporary photographers. We shot a lot at night waiting for word of the latest tragedy to happen; we would rush to the scene with the crime photographers! These were difficult experiences for all the crew, less dangerous than emotionally challenging.

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