Seeing Is Believing

Since they came on the market in 1985, portable video cameras have been used to document all manner of crimes. In support of its thesis that “the handycam revolution is changing the world,” this 2002 video documentary intercuts footage of a police-dog attack in South Africa, a beating in Cambodia, and a screaming woman in Chechnya—all in the first 40 seconds. Subsequently, a human rights worker is shown giving a camera to indigenous Filipinos trying to regain their land, and Greenpeaceniks tie cameras to kites to document pollution. While the technology's more dangerous applications aren't wholly ignored—it's pointed out that suicide bombers use video as a recruitment tool—directors Katerina Cizek and Peter Wintonick are essentially cheerleaders. The crucial point that images alone are incomplete—that they need to be understood within their social and historical contexts—is reduced to a single sound bite about “critical thinking.” Moreover, the stream of cam-captured horrors is sometimes tabloidish: footage of a little boy whose father has just been murdered is arguably invasive. 59 min.

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