Review of Dear Memories (dir. Nahuel Lopez)

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By Luisa Connarty (she/her)

Artwork by Mary Martin (she/her)

This review is a part of our Glasgow Film Festival review series. The Film Festival is running between 01/03/23-12/03/23, don’t miss out and go and see some incredible new films.

At this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, German Director Nahuel Lopez adds to the eclectic array of UK premieres with his fourth feature-length documentary Dear Memories. The film perfectly ecompasses a feeling of nostalgia, comfort, and hope as it explores the life of the renowned German photographer Thomas Hoopker. 

Bounding together Hoepker’s past, present, and future, Lopez follows Hoepker and his wife Christine Kruchten on a reflective journey from coast to coast of America. Beginning the road trip at their home for over thirty years in Southampton, near New York and ending in San Francisco, the excursion fulfils Hoepker’s wish to retrace his footsteps from a previous trip before his physical and mental deterioration, due to his recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The running themes of memory and sentiment are enriched by the reflections made on the journey, Thomas and Christine are accompanied by a time capsule of his past work, including archived photographs and essays.

Known for capturing some of the most iconic images of our time, magnum photos member Thomas Hoepker, has had a long, accomplished career. His early work from the 1960s focused on capturing people in their rawest forms, exploring the breath of the human condition. His photo series Champ, saw him document the mighty Mohammad Ali at the peak of his career, using his lens to bring character and vulnerability to an undefeated champion. Other projects revolved around street photography, narrating the stories and perspectives of ordinary people, from big cities and small towns. Hoepker is celebrated for his humanistic approach and his ability to capture the essence of any moment, to tell a story, and to evoke emotion.

Lopez has turned the camera onto Hoepker, who is usually behind it. Lopez has created a vulnerable and intimate connection to Thomas through his own craft, beautifully portraying Hoepker’s passion for capturing images of life, as his own memories of the past fade and his consciousness of the present wavers. Set mostly towards the end of 2020, political themes arise as the US elections and Covid-19 plague society and dominate the news. However, Hoepker and his wife Christine’s continued good humour and wit shine through and enlighten the screen. 

I felt at points that Lopez was trying to bind too much into 90 minutes, but despite this, as someone previously unfamiliar with his work, I would highly recommend seeing the documentary. Whether you are a fan of Hoepker’s photography, or have never heard his name, the film beautifully provokes a wide sense of hope, by allowing us an insight into a capsule of memories, politics, and passions that will not be forgotten over time.


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