Fear to CPDS: Short Documentaries Tell the Story

By Talgha Bendie – Gaza

The Centre for Political and Development Studies (CPDS) had the privilege of having Harry Fear, a young independent film maker, present a lecture on the importance of short documentaries. Harry who is 23 hails from Oxford, England. He has made many short documentaries which highlight issues such as social injustices which take place around the world. Fear recently returned from South Africa where he shot some short documentaries on location. He is currently working in the Gaza Strip shooting short documentaries which have a running time of up to thirty minuets or less and hopes to show the world the reality of life in Gaza as opposed to the mainstream bias of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. 

Mr Fear defined short documentaries as short, non- fiction audio and video clips which can range from very simple to very complex.  Documentaries also have an essence in the sense that one can become emotionally drawn to a documentaries story as opposed to a news report which is more factually based.  The main difference between a report and documentary is that documentaries carry essence, something that reports do not have.  He explained how society is currently involved in a “media war” with regards to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and that people are more open to use technology to get their news in the modern world rather than the conventional reading newspaper or magazine etc.

A clip from the Candle vigil for Gaza which was held in the United Kingdom was then played.  It was short but really moving at the same time. Pictures of a mother crying over her slain child, phosphorous bombs and the destruction of Gaza were some images that were played with a harmonic song playing in the background. During the clip the audience seemed really captivated. All eyes were focused on the screen during a clip. The clip surprisingly was made by a British Israeli who knows Mr Fear.

The following clip that was played showed the arrival of the survivors and activists who were on board the Freedom Flotilla that was attacked and hijacked by Israel in international waters.  Strong and powerful scenes of the activist’s arrival at Heathrow airport in London being welcomed by supporters of Palestine waving the Palestinian flag could be seen. The activists were angry that the British government did not come to their aid when it was needed.  An activist by the name is Osama also slammed the international community for their silence. Osama also called for world to take action and do everything in their power to stop Israel. The clip was popular around the world and on Youtube due to its intense level of emotion.

The lecturer then explained to the audience the two main reasons for short documentaries. The first being a documentaries ability to bring about a practical difference and the second being its ability to bring about a narrative difference.

Another clip called: I am Israel then played. It was very basic and just highlighted facts on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  The clip was short, to the point and visually informative. Harry then gave the audience a few steps into how to make a good documentary, they were as follows:

1- Technical excellence

• This means keeping the camera as still as possible, breathing softly and not letting the camera shake whilst shooting the documentary.

2- Content Communicated

• The reality depicted in the documentary and how it is conveyed to the viewer.

A good point that was brought up was that filming video can be used to deter violence. For example not many people would not want to commit crimes or injustice in front  of a camera for the fear of getting prosecuted on that footage or earning a bad name or reputation due to their actions.

This was the 21st lecture held by CPDS.  The presentation by Mr Fear was one of the best that the CPDS has had to date.

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