By Elias Savada | June 19, 2014

I’ve spent a lot of my life working in and with audio visual archives. Mostly the moving image variety. I’ve shared my family’s personal memories at Home Movie Day celebrations. I have thousands of family photos in aging binders on my office shelves. Mark Kologi, the centerpiece of Ben Kitnick and Saxon Richardson’s short meditation “The Photo Man,” shares your (i.e., the world’s) orphaned, faded memories within his small Southern California universe. On any given weekend you can browse Mark’s bins at this or that farmer’s market, where he displays his wares—millions of discarded photographs. Abandoned by their parents, collected from yard sales, and now falling through his fingers, many are on their way to curious strangers, other photo dealers, Hollywood production houses, but, hopefully, not the trash.

Part of the AFI DOCS “Shorts Program: Gone Hollywood,” this is one of the festival’s few films you can watch free online, here on Vimeo (where it’s a staff pick). Watch and listen, especially to the soulful score by Markus Rennemann. Go on, do it now. I don’t have much more to say.

Mark is a low-key guy, not very excitable, but very focused. He regularly feels a tug of emotion whether it’s over a particular photo, or from passersby sharing their thoughts with him when thumbing through his overflowing buckets o’ photos. What a lovely, short glimpse of a man saving our lives in his own, personal way.

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