Gordon Quinn to speak on documentary ethics in Yamagata and Chicago

Kartemquin co-founder and Artistic Director Gordon Quinn will draw on his five decades of filmmaking experience to speak on documentary ethics and fair use at upcoming festivals in Yamagata and Chicago this October.

The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival will host a discussion on Fair Use and ethics as part of its series titled "The Ethics Machine: Six Gazes of the Camera." Here is the description:

"Documentary filmmakers strike out into the landscapes of humans and animals to make films about “the world,” not “a world.” This makes all the difference. It means that every camera angle, every light, every cut, every edit, every music hook—every choice—poses an ethical challenge. This turns the documentary camera into an ethics machine.

Using a frame of six gazes and the ethics they imply, this program will feature lively dialogues between audiences and filmmakers. Films include Hara Kazuo’s legendary The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), the tapestry of injustice in Zhao Liang’s Petition (director’s cut, 2009), the social media deceits of Catfish (2010), The Model (2013), a double feature of the masterpieces Fighting Soldiers (1939) and Land without Bread (1933) and the disturbing stalking experiment of Rape (1969) by Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Discussions led by Abé Mark Nornes, Brian Winston and Saito Ayako. There will be special panels on the ethical conundrums of 311 filmmaking, and on Fair Use with director Gordon Quinn (Kartemquin, Chicago)."

Held only every two years since 1989, Yamagata is among the world's longest-running and most distinguished documentary film festivals. In 2003, our film Stevie (on which Gordon was lead cinematographer) won the festival's "Mayor's Prize (Prize of Excellence)." Gordon will be there from October 10-17 2013.

On October 20th, Gordon will speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival, on a panel titled: "Ethics Behind the Lens." Tickets are on sale now. Here is the description:

"There are no set rules in documentary filmmaking, only decisions about where to draw the line. Pioneer documentarian and Kartemquin Films cofounder Gordon Quinn explores examples from films such as Hoop Dreams, Prisoner of Her Past, and The Interrupters to illustrate how the documentary process relies upon a constant negotiation of power relationships among the story, subject, and viewer. In an interactive session mixing video with audience discussion, Quinn will cover ethical issues ranging from how to protect subjects' privacy while intimately exposing their lives, to filmmakers’ responsibility to make their method and intent transparent to the audience. He will talk about what is often kept quiet, such as if—and how—subjects should be compensated. Quinn argues that, despite similarities between their codes of ethics, there are crucial differences between documentary and journalism that stem from factors such as trust and empathy. He also addresses pertinent intellectual property issues in the digital age, specifically the importance of ethics when exercising Fair Use."