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Watch the Action
This is an exploration of activism; watch with open eyes and open minds
NUTINI, P. (2014). IRON SKY [MP3] ATLANTIC
JACKMAN, H. (2013). SAFE NOW FROM CAPTAIN PHILLIPS [MP3] VARÈSE SARABANDE
THE MUSICAL CHOICES WERE AN ATTEMPT TO EVOKE THE EMOTIONAL RESPONSES IN THE VIEWER THAT I FEEL WHEN I AM IN THE ON-SCREEN SCENARIOS. THIS WAS NOT TO UNDERMINE THE EVENTS' NATURAL POTENCY BUT TO ADD PERSONAL, EMOTIVE CONTEXT THAT YOU CAN ONLY FEEL FROM BEING THERE.
Weapon of the Weak
The pitch for this film came right around the time that I had become involved with other animal activists. I have been attending SAVE’s, a movement of activists that bear witness to the atrocities committed to livestock and give respect to the animals before they enter the abattoir. At these vigils the camera plays a crucial role. Most of the witnesses are there to reveal the message to the rest of the world. My first vigil I had no equipment and although I was glad I went, to say goodbye to the animals and educate myself, I felt very powerless to be watching but unable to do anything with the information. The camera allows us to perform a useful role of capturing what we see and distributing it to enlighten those that weren’t there. I use an adaption of James Scott's 'Weapons of the Weak' (1) to define the camera as the weapon of those of us who feel powerless to the systems that confine us.
‘Bearing witness’ reminds me of Nancy Scheper-Hughes (2) argument for anthropologists to act as witness rather than observer, and then advocate on behalf of your informants. Well, if the animals are our informants and we are witnessing their hardship, then photographs and film is the communication that does it the best. Visual media is the best way to convey a message.
The place of advocacy in visual anthropology therefore captured my attention.
Working through Rabiger's (3) exercises the themes I kept coming back to were individual autonomy, rights, power of people and word that sums this up for me is, activism. I could have exclusively filmed the vigils; however, I knew this would inevitably turn into a film that advocated for veganism which are the purpose of our usual videos. Therefore, to focus on a more neutral view of activism I decided to explore its other forms, to get well rounded input from different activists, with different motivations and messages.
1. Scott, J. C. (1985). Weapons of the weak: everyday forms of resistance. New Haven and London, Yale University Press.
2. Scheper-Hughes, N. (1995). The Primacy of the Ethical: Propositions for a Militant Anthropology. Current Anthropology. 36 (3), 419.
3. Rabiger, M. (2004). Directing the Documentary. 4th ed. London: Elsevier. 119-142.