Documentary Masterclass - Steven Eastwood - Scottish Documentary Institute

Documentary Masterclass – Steven Eastwood

We are delighted to announce Scottish Documentary Institute have teamed up with Hakawati to present this masterclass with filmmaker and artist Steven Eastwood.

The Ethics of Seeing
How do we see and in what manner do we look? Since its inception, documentary filmmakers have debated what a truthful and an ethical camera attitude to the world might be. But non-fiction film is greatly challenged by what we have decided should not be seen, for example intimate, private experiences, significantly illness and pain, and it is also challenged by things which cannot be seen, such as our interior states and beliefs. In this class, filmmaker Steven Eastwood will discuss his evolving method of finding ethical frameworks for more complex ways of seeing. The session will look at how individuals and communities making outlandish claims can often be given poor or sensationalist representation, for example, claims to divinity in Eastwood’s Those Who Are Jesus (2001) or maintaining Bosnia has ancient pyramids in his Buried Land (2010). The majority of the class will focus on people with terminal diagnoses and in the end stages of life, who are very often denied cultural participation and therefore an image. This was the premise for Eastwood making Island (2017), which follows four individuals to the end of their lives. The discussion will reflect on the making of the film and its subsequent impact, considering the taboo of death on screen and asking whether we can have an ethics of aesthetics, and have license to see differently.

With introduction from SDI co-director and producer Sonja Henrici.

Steven Eastwood’s two features Island (LFF,Rotterdam 2017/2018) and Buried Land (Tribeca, Moscow and Mumbai Film Festivals in 2010) have screened internationally, and Those who are Jesus was nominated for a Grierson Award back in 2001. Eastwood’s most recent solo show The Interval and The Instant exhibited at Fabrica Brighton, and he has published widely. Eastwood is Professor in Film Practice at Queen Mary University London, where he convenes the Masters programme in Documentary Film.

Across the water on the island, four individuals experience the year in which their lives will end. Illnesses progresses, relationships gently shift, and we are witness to rarely seen and intensely private moments. One person shares their acceptance of death, whilst another is surrounded by a community in shock. We observe bedside care and the rhythm of breathing. In a pathology lab, microscopic biopsies in close-up show the interior of bodies, our biology. Filmed over 12 months on the Isle of Wight, Island is a life-affirming reflection on the phenomena of dying, portraying the transition away from personhood and observing the last days and hours of life at the moment of death. Like the ferries cynically arriving and departing in this enigmatic landscape, the film appears the buoyant, afloat. Death is shown to be natural and everyday but also unspeakable and strange.

This Masterclass will be followed by a screening of Island at the Cameo 
Monday 26th November, 18:30pm
Cameo Edinburgh, 38 Home St, Edinburgh EH3 9LZ
Buy tickets for the screening here