Can technology solve one of documentary’s oldest ethical problems?

How can the documentary filmmaker, as observer, know that they are fairly and accurately representing the worldview of the subjects of their films? 

Tid: Må 2019-03-25 kl 14.00 - 16.00

Föreläsare: Dr David Hickman - Department of Theatre, Film and Television University of York Heslington York

Plats: Biblioteket, Lindstedtsvägen 3, E-huset, våningsplan 4

The history of documentary has been plagued by a version of what philosophers call the ‘other minds problem’. How can the documentary filmmaker, as observer, know that they are fairly and accurately representing the worldview of the subjects of their films? This problem is particularly acute in ethnographic documentaries, where the subjects are from other cultures, speak in other languages, and have radically different life-experiences. Jean Rouch’s cinéma vérité films contained an explicit attempts to address this problem, by involving his ethnographic subjects in the editing process. But it is now at least possible to open up opportunities for individuals to create their own versions of films that feature them as subjects. This talk will explore one way of doing that considering various aspects of documentary making including in particular the use of sound, for a longitudinal documentary project entitled Tales from Two Cities: Ten Years in the Megaslums of Karachi and Mexico City.

David Hickman

David is an award winning documentary director, producer, writer, cinematographer as well as academic at the University of York, UK.

As producer of the Errol Morris-directed A Brief History of Time(Triton/Paramount Pictures), he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1992. More recently he directed and series produced the Emmy Award-winning The Elegant Universe, adapted from Brian Greene’s bestselling book for Nova/WGBH in the US and Channel 4.  

Since 2009, David has completed (produced, directed and photographed) Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo, a feature-length documentary for Channel 4, which won the Grierson Award in 2010 for best science documentary, and three films for the Al Jazeera series Slavery: A 21st Century Evil (2011), which was nominated for an IDA (International Documentary Association). 

More information about Dr David Hickman can be found here.