The cost of understanding

As a sequel to the previous post about SAG eligibility and new media, The Hunted has officially launched its third annual contest:

On a more serious note, however, I’d like to take a bit of a break from the usual discussion of staging and shooting fake violence to salute those who strive for the truth. The big news amongst filmmakers this past week was the unfortunate demise of a few combat videographers, who had attracted notice recently for their award-winning Restrepo.

There’s a fine line in photo/video journalism… besides the obvious moral dilemma of involvement/impartial observation, there’s inevitable tone issues and partiality to balance, and the core question of how to document so as to honor those who fought without glorifying conflict (at least, for those of us who do not support religious wars; There are clowns like this guy, who literally and figuratively fan the flames to meet their own agenda). Some of these are I’m sure going to surface in and after the upcoming film Bang Bang Club (click for a disappointed review).

Theatre can be “documentary”, but means something different by that. One of the most successful attempts to cover the realities of modern war on the stage has been the Black Watch, by the National Theatre of Scotland.

There’s some good use of theatrical convention and interesting movement/fight/dance bits- some of which they seem to be trying to re-use very closely in Beautiful Burnout, incidentally:

So many catch-22s… we want to understand war and conflict, and in many ways our policies and lives would be lived better if we truly did. On the other hand, something that strong can make you fixate, can be hard to leave behind when it’s time to focus on more mundane issues of life. How do we both care about the life and death and atrocities, as well as the everyday little things that we can more immediately do something about in everyday civilian life? Where is the line between news reporting and art representing, and what part do both have to play? Are messages best delivered through documentation or artistic allegory?

I think we’ve all got to answer these questions for ourselves. Hopefully most of us won’t have to pay as high a price for our decision as Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros did- or, for that matter, as Pfc. Restrepo.

Happy Earth Day, and may you all be in no rush to fertilize it.


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