Monday, October 28, 2013

The Ethics of Photography

The amazing experiences continue this week at the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) with a beautifully curated collection of documentary films and great weather at the gorgeous Stanford University campus (PHOTOS below)... not to mention the wonderful UNAFF staff and volunteers.

On Friday, the visiting filmmakers were treated to a delicious luncheon at the Polo Club in Palo Alto, where we had an opportunity to all be in the same place at the same time and to and talk about our work while sharing a meal together.

Saturday was another inspiring day of watching films and meeting filmmakers.  I had the honour of meeting Kristine Samuelson and John Haptas (BELOW) the filmmakers behind "Tokyo Waka" (WEBSITE), a beautiful documentary that I had the pleasure of being introduced to earlier this year by a friend, and which was screened in UNAFF last year.  The film, ostensibly about crows in Tokyo, is really more about people, but I don't want to give it all away...

The highlight of the Saturday screenings for me was Willem Timmers "Framing the Other" (INFO), which follows a Dutch tourist as she travels to Africa and pays (while trying to negotiate a lower price) Mursi women and children to take their photos.  It was a stark commentary on our society, and I found it both compelling and disturbing.

The panel on the Ethics of Photography that followed the screening of "Framing the Other" was both fascinating and challenging, and brought into light the very real ethical challenges we as filmmakers and photographers face when documenting our subjects.

There but for the grace of God go I.

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