Portfolio: Kalpesh Lathigra

Send in the tanks...

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The Independent Culture

Dateline: Belgrade. A food riot has taken over one corner of the Serbian capital. As the people, desperate for bread, prepare to storm a factory, police and paramilitary forces have assembled ahead of an anticipated episode of disorder met with brutality.

"Episode" is right. For little of this is real. OK, the armoured truck – that's no prop; it's borrowed from the Serb forces. And the grunts and policemen, they're the real McCoy, too – albeit clothed in uniform that bears the stamp of Rome. For, today, they are extras, on the set of Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes' Bafta-nominated film of 2011.

Kalpesh Lathigra, the man behind the lens, got to know Fiennes while accompanying him on several trips in the actor/director's capacity as a Unicef ambassador, and was granted special dispensation to follow his own project on location with the modern-day update of the Shakespearean classic.

The urge behind that project, which is being exhibited at this month's Belfast Photo Festival, is to question our ability to tell truth from fiction.

"I went to Afghanistan in 2007, going out on patrol with the troops there," says Lathigra. "After that I worked on some military photo essays with trainees at Sandhurst. On Coriolanus, they drew upon photographic research from recent conflicts, including the Balkans War, to shape the film's scenes. And I thought it would be interesting to collect those series together, and see whether the viewer can tell if the shots are from an entertainment or news environment – which in turn should make us ask questions of the imagery we are continuously fed, in films, in games, in the news."

The Belfast Photo Festival runs from Thursday to 30 June in various locations around the city (belfastphotofestival.com)