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The Man Who Saw Too Much on JMAN.tv - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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What drives someone to pursue scenes of death and suffering? From the age of nine, avid 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.

"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.

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