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Seeing is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News
A Film by Katerina Cizek & Peter Wintonick
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It may be the greatest media technology paradigm shift since TV's advent. From Rodney King to Osama Bin Laden, handicams aren't just for weddings and family vacations anymore. Over the past decade, amateur camcorders have become the eyes of the world when no one else is watching.

Human rights activists, war crimes investigators, right-wing proselytizers and ordinary citizens are arming themselves with the tools of the new visual revolution. For two years filmmakers Katerina Cizek and Peter Wintonick crossed the world tracking media activists to look at what happens when front-line advocates pick up personal camcorders to document what they see. What are the risks and responsibilities? What are the wider impacts on television, audiences, and society?

SEEING IS BELIEVING discusses the history of the camcorder and illuminates the work and words of key international journalists and media activists. And it shines a verité spotlight on the compelling story of Joey Lozano, a courageous video-activist who documents rights abuses against indigenous people in dangerous corners of the Philippines. But does Joey's camera prevent violence - or jeopardize lives?

Drawn from original shooting around the world, and sampling hundreds of hours of exclusive contemporary archives, SEEING IS BELIEVING provides a dramatic and multi-faceted window into the power of do-it-yourself filmmaking.

"For students of documentary film in a communications curriculum the film can provide an added dimension of the 'camera as a witness.'" —Anthropology Review Database (June, 2011)

"An absorbing film about information technology."—Robert Fulford, National Post

"Recommended! Thorough coverage and effective editing make SEEING IS BELIEVING an appropriate vehicle for portraying the importance of balanced news reporting and the revolutionary results of technology in overcoming the 'digital divide.' Academic libraries serving professors and students of journalism, sociology, and human rights would benefit from having this video in their collection."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"Fascinating... an indictment of the mass media. Despite the often difficult-to-watch footage it contains, SEEING IS BELIEVING is essential viewing, particularly for those who still harbour naive notions that the mainstream news media will provide us with all the coverage of world affairs that we need."—Basem Boshra, Montreal Gazette

"An interesting examination of the impact of modern recording devices. Convincingly demonstrates the power of images in increasing awareness of wrong-doing and extremism, but also reveals how the same devices can be used to less altruistic ends. Recommended! "—Video Librarian

"A particularly engaging piece of work. The film seems to argue that the handicam is a critical tool of non-violent resistance... though it raises other questions about the utility and power of this magical box. (It) points out that all documentary footage is subject to interpretative dispute... and question(s) whether the handicam might actually endanger certain lives more than it protects them. Significant and useful for collections supporting documentary studies."—Ken Nolley, H-Film

"A brisk documentary that really should be played in media and journalism classes."—Andrew Ryan's Short List, The Globe and Mail

2004 Association for Asian Studies Film Festival
2003 Award of Commendation, Society for Visual Anthropology
2003 American Anthropological Association Film Festival
Abraham Award, Conflict & Resolution Series, 2002 Hamptons Film Festival
2002 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival

58 minutes / color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2003
Copyright: 2002
Sale: $390

Study Guide Available in Adobe PDF Format

Subject areas:
Citizenship, Communications, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Studies, Human Rights, Journalism, Media Studies, Politics, Social Movements

Related Titles:
The Battle for the Arab Viewer: A behind-the-scenes look at the rivalry between the Arab world's two main TV networks - Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

Democracy on Deadline: A survey of journalists working in various media and languages around the world, as they grapple with their relationships to government, and the dangers of speaking truth to power.

CultureJam: A film about the movement called Culture Jamming. Pranksters and subversive artists are causing a bit of brand damage to corporate mindshare...

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