Too many cooks spoil the broth? Not anymore, says One for Ten producer Laura Shacham. She’s hitting the social media superhighway to bring hundreds of voices to the stories of death row exonerees.
The weekly digest has been on an unintentional hiatus… I have been helping out on some exciting projects here including our forthcoming Video Advocacy Online Toolkit and planning some outreach for our soon-to-be published report on current challenges and opportunities for human rights video.
Our good friends at the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation invited WITNESS to be a part of the Good Pitch at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. A commercial pitch forum brings filmmakers, funders and distributors together sort of parliamentary debate style.
Over the past four months, we’ve tried to feature and contextualise videos we felt should be seen and debated by a wider audience. Today’s featured human rights video is something completely new.
You may be one of the millions who have sought it out online – or you may have decided to avoid it. Someone – a friend, a colleague, a relative – may have emailed it to you, or called you up to tell you about it. You may have seen a clip of it on the TV news. One way or the other, you’re likely to have an opinion on it, because it’s made for a memorable start to 2007, as political cartoonist blackandblack’s cartoon illustrates:
Click here to launch blackandblack’s blog in a new window.
If anyone was still in any doubt that sousveillance was one of the ideas of the year, then the Saddam video should put that beyond doubt. What’s different about the cellphone footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, is that, aside from being probably the most watched web video in history, it has re-ignited a global debate on a perennial human rights issue: capital punishment.
Judging by the Iraqi government’s indignation at the unofficial footage, and the ambivalent reaction of many major media outlets (as detailed by Armenia-based Onnik Krikorian here), they were the only ones genuinely surprised that a cameraphone was smuggled past the security checks into the death chamber. If whoever filmed it had surrendered his cellphone before the hanging, the world may never have seen beyond the mute, carefully-edited, tastefully-faded-out official video of the proceedings.
The real story emerging from the Saddam video is that, in laying bare the huge gap between the managed official account of his execution and the far messier reality, it has provoked people – and many bloggers – to reflect less on whether Saddam merited his fate, and more on the nature and appropriateness of that fate for the age we live in.
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