Conference brings new perspective to documentary

Feb 27, 2014

The Based on a True Story conference kicks off today and hopes to provide a new perspective over the relationship between journalism and documentary filmmaking. The conference was started three years ago by MU Associate Professor of German Brad Prager.

“The conference, which has the name Based on a True Story, came from a collaboration between the program in film studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and members of the faculty at the Journalism school, who shared a common interest in documentary,” Prager said. “We found ourselves asking if there wasn’t a potential for a really interesting research area there, synthesizing what goes on in documentary film studies together with the questions documentary film poses for journalism.”

The conference utilizes the True/False Film Festival this weekend to bring in filmmakers, journalists and critics to help with discussions and panels over this topic. MU Associate Journalism Professor Tim Vos is moderating a panel discussing the question of whether or not documentary filmmakers are bound to journalistic ethics.

“This idea for this came from a piece written by one of panelists, Robert Greene,” Vos said. “He raised the possibility that journalism has held back documentary to a certain extent. He acknowledges and I think all of us acknowledge that documentary has benefited from a shared institutional history with journalism, but that if we have the same expectations for documentary that we have for journalism, then documentary isn’t going to be allowed to sort of break out on its own and do new things.”

Other topics in the conference include the ethics of filming someone’s who is in harm’s way and a discussion of how to translate journalism story into a documentary format.

Prager hopes this conference will supplement the True/False Film Festival  and also hopes to bring in new panels next year involving the new documentary program at the Missouri School of Journalism.