The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University has released a new report that examines the risks associated with documentary filmmaking and provides suggestions as to how filmmakers and journalists might go about reducing these risks.
Perhaps the most critical issue highlighted by the report — which is titled, “Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk when Telling Truth to Power,” — is the lack of shared resources.
“It is so important to highlight the lack of a true, centralized resource and training hub for documentary filmmakers in the US,” noted Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Executive Director Deirdre Haj, in a statement. “There is much to be done outside of advocacy and exhibition.”
The report specifically highlights the absence of security resources for both subjects and filmmakers.
“The E-Team” director and producer Katy Chevigny, who, along with her production team, followed first-responder human rights workers into areas of conflict for the purposes of the film, expressed a deep appreciation for the publication of the new report, which, she said, “fills a void in the field.”
Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, “Dangerous Documentaries: Reducing Risk when Telling Truth to Power” is a synthesis of interviews with documentary filmmakers, festival programmers, lawyers and other individuals who are familiar with or whose work aligns with that of the documentary genre. Besides interviews, the report includes references to certain pre-existing literature.
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According to Principal Investigator Prof. Patricia Aufderheide, “Documentaries that tell truth to power are important in a media ecology that can sustain and nurture democratic discourse. Understanding the current environment for production is crucial to understanding what makers need and can do to lower risk.”
To read the full report, click here.