Posted by: Jonathan Hinderliter | March 1, 2010

Panel: Making films far from home

A panel of three filmmakers set out Sunday afternoon to discuss the problems of making films far from home.

After brief descriptions of each of their films, Mikael Wistrom (Familia), Simon Chambers (Cowboys in India), and Stefanie Brockhaus (The Other Side of Life) talked about power, transparency and purpose.

Power was a fascinating concept to these filmmakers. As each director explained the level of transparency they put into their films, they began to talk about the influence they had over the people they photographed. All of their films focused on lower classes, with many subjects agreeing to be filmed in order to have a bigger imprint on the world.

All of the filmmakers said they made documentaries to help people understand a situation. Their slices of life were not intended to be educational, they said, but rather to build connections. They give an understanding of the “other,” the people unlike ourselves.

“The point is to find an understanding, which is different from information. You can do something with that understanding that you can’t do with knowledge,” Chambers said.

As the culture and ideology around documentary filmmaking changes, these directors expressed how much more important  understanding is than “truth” — a word all of them laughed at when spoken.

Because the films they create are completely framed by their decisions, understanding seemed to what they hoped for, but this certainly seemed to be enough for these three directors.

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