Truth or Privacy. What's your Choice? By Jean-Max Méjean
It’s the name of the game, one cannot reward all the films proposed in a festival and the jury has a delicate obligation to make a single choice. So, this year in Toronto , this choice was all the more difficult: the selection established by the programmers of the 12th Hot Docs festival was of great quality for the first reports as much as the entire proposed documentaries.
Reflect of the world and mirror of our unhealthy society, one cannot say that the worries of our peers are pointless, considering pollution, wars and daily miseries due to solitude and isolation. One of the proposed documentaries is fascinating and would deserve that we take it into account, even though it wasn’t rewarded.
Indeed, Off Limits by the Quebecker Gilbert Duclos has the merit to insist on a phenomenon which will surely influence the future of documentary films and, in general, even photographic reports.
Basing its investigation on famous active and late photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis, or even William Klein, the filmmaker probes French jurisprudence concerning the right for the image, which will eventually question the power of report or documentary images. It is not only anecdotal: every person can henceforth ask for rights if he or she recognizes oneself on a newspaper or in a film. Even more tolerant than French law, North American law on this subject could now be affected by it, according to Gilbert Duclos. Today, one cannot film any more or even photograph people in the street without their written agreement. This right, which naturally has to be heard and respected, ends up however in a dangerous drift, which compromises journalistic deontology. These days, to escape lawsuits often dictated by cupidity, reporters don’t hesitate to call for professional actors, sliding towards false / true reports.
What will become of photographers of truth if they cannot leave to our descendants any genuine track of our society’s memory? Off Limits puts forward the grave problem of truth’s future. Actually, when the TV reality knows an increasing success, this demand of privacy preservation doesn’t seem paradoxical. Thus, aren’t these the two faces of our fascination for image?