Double Exposure Film Festival 2022 goes beyond the headlines – International Documentary Association | | Episode Movies

The only film festival in the United States dedicated to investigative storytelling, Double Exposure Film Festival returned this year for a hybrid eighth edition. This year’s festival featured a series of 11 feature films and 15 symposium panels, all held in Washington, DC. A selection of films were available on their online screening platform, while all symposium panels were livestreamed for virtual attendance.

The Double Exposure Film Festival is known for its focus on the intertwining of journalism and documentary as a source of seeking and uncovering the truth for the benefit of society. Through both the film program and the specialist conference, the festival brings together filmmakers and journalists to discuss important issues influencing investigative storytelling.

“This year’s line-up demonstrates the value of long storytelling to bring depth and nuance to headlines,” said Sky Sitney, festival co-director. “The films take us viscerally and visually into the stories that shape our world today, often at the high risk and extraordinary sacrifice of the filmmaker and journalist behind the lens.” This season marks Sitney’s final season as co-director while she into her new role as co-founder of the new documentary film festival DC/DOX.

“This year’s list is a testament to the incredible commitment of journalists and filmmakers who risk everything to get ahead of the headlines,” says founder and co-director Diana Jean Schemo. “From an eight-year investigation of cross-border land grabs, to an anonymous collective documenting the death of democracy in Myanmar, to a documentary about the devastation of Mariupolis, Ukraine, that claimed the director’s life, these films all embody a commitment to to convey deeper truths at any cost.”

This year’s program focused on whistleblowing, threats to democracy, exposing abuses of power, and responsible and sustainable labor practices.

reveal truth

Double exposure opens with the strong film the gravedirected by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, which follows award-winning journalist Nathan Halverson. Leading his team at the Center for Investigative Reporting, Halverson exposes the governments and powerful entities that are grabbing land and resources around the world. The film is an alarming exploration of the money and influence that shapes our geographies and affects our access to the food and water we need. The film set the stage for larger conversations throughout the festival programme.

parts of the body, directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, examines the practices behind Hollywood sex scenes. The film challenges the on-screen depiction of sex, sexuality and nudity, which focuses on the male gaze in cinema. Guevara-Flanagan is at the forefront of the exploitation of women in the entertainment industry’s legacy. The film features compelling interviews with key Hollywood figures including Rose McGowan, Jane Fonda and director Karyn Kusama.

Directed by an anonymous filmmaking collective Myanmar diaries reveals the aftermath of the military coup in Myanmar. The film weaves together shocking eyewitness footage of the terror junta and mixes non-fiction and fantasy. The film serves as a powerful piece of citizen journalism and community resistance in the face of military atrocities. It underscores the power of filmmaking to highlight issues largely ignored by the global media.

hold power accountable

The fight for accountability has real consequences when those in power are questioned. Matt Sarneckis The murder of a journalist traces these consequences. The film documents the brutal murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in 2018. The young couple were both just 27 years old when they were killed in their own home; This was the first targeted murder of a journalist in Slovakia. Her death sparked unprecedented nationwide protests. The murder of a journalist reveals leaked reports and corruption networks within the police and bureaucracy leading up to the prime minister.

After groundsman Dewayne Johnson developed a rash, he learned that an herbicide he regularly used on the job was harmful to his health. What began as a serious pursuit of well-being turned into a complicated legal battle with a multinational agrochemical company that allegedly had misleading chemical labels. Jennifer Baichwal’s Into the Weeds follows Johnson as his health deteriorates as he fights powerful forces for justice.

Harass, directed by Byron Hurt, examines defilement rituals in fraternities around the world. Having personally experienced hazing himself, Hurt explores the origins of these abusive traditions by examining toxic masculinity, violence, and excessive alcohol and drug use. He points his camera at the institutional cover-ups and societal pressure on fraternity members.


One of the highlights of the Double Exposure Film Festival is the symposium lineup and access to one-on-one sessions with industry members. Panel programming is thematically closely related to film programming. Whistleblowers and the Creator Economy, with panelists Karim Amer, Ed Pierson, Mary Inman and Amber Scorah, discussed the evolving role of whistleblowers with the advent of social media. With access to these platforms, some whistleblowers have started to seek out their own sources to report their stories.

The “Facing Goliath” panel consisted of Byron Hurt, Jennifer Baichwal, Nate Halverson and Amanda Pike. In a captivating conversation, the filmmakers and their protagonists discuss the challenges of standing up to the powerful. There was also a Lunchtime Conversation: Reading the Supreme Court on Freedom of the Press with Max Mishkin, Jennifer Nelson and Alison Schary, who discussed the future of the right-leaning Supreme Court and its potential impact on First Amendment issues.

The symposium also provided a framework for discussions that are bubbling up in this area. There was a panel on Reframing Representation, attended by educator Patricia Aufderheide, filmmakers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, and educator/filmmaker June Cross, who discussed the dynamics of relationships between filmmakers and participants. The panel “Reflection Is Key: How Values-Based Filmmaking Can Reduce Harm” with participants Natalie Bullock Brown and Molly Murphy addressing the new topics of the Documentary Accountability Working Group frame about responsible filmmaking.

Overall, the Double Exposure Film Festival offered a wide range of programming that supported the spirit of collaboration and mutual learning among filmmakers and journalists. The festival serves as a memorial for the documentary about the ethics, standards and storytelling of investigative reporting.

Kristal Sotomayor is a bilingual Latin American freelance journalist, documentary filmmaker and festival programmer based in Philadelphia. You will serve as IDA’s Awards Competition Manager and Interim Editor-in-Chief of the cineSPEAK Journal. They previously served as program director for the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival and communications and public relations coordinator Scribe Video Center.

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