Kartemquin's Pat Aufderheide releases key report on Ethics in Documentary Filmmaking

The Center for Social Media today published the landmark report "Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work" by Kartemquin Films' Board Secretary Pat Aufderheide.

The report is also being showcased on a panel at the Toronto International Film Festival’s first documentary conference, on Sept. 13, 2009.

In the report, dozens of documentarians frankly discuss workplace challenges to ethical standards, conflicting ethical values, and most concerning, a lack of open and shared standards and practices. The report discusses challenges ranging from subject payment to re-enactment to misrepresentation of archival material.

Kartemquin Film's Artistic Director Gordon Quinn is quoted extensively in the report, including this passage:

We say to our subjects, “We are not journalists; we are going to spend years with you. Our code of ethics is very different. A journalist wouldn’t show you the footage. We will show the film before it is finished. I want you to sign the release, but we will really listen to you. But ultimately it has to be our decision.” In some cases I will say, “If there is something that you can’t live with then we’ll discuss it, we will have the argument and real dialogue. In the end, if I can’t convince you then we’ll take it out.”

The D-Word Forum is hosting a discussion of the report all this week, with Pat Aufderheide answering queries from forum members.