Journalism for the Win

The Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival Arrives In DC At the Right Time

During a week where the political center of gravity hung in the balance awaiting the FBI’s sexual assault investigation of Supreme Court nominee, now Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The New York Times published an exhaustive investigation into President Donald J. Trump’s business dealings revealing the truth behind his inheritance. A fortune passed along through dubious tax schemes and outright fraud. The FBI investigation of allegations against the Justice left many questions unasked. The NYT exposé on the Chief Executive’s estate answered questions nobody had thought to ask.

As the search for verifiable truth, and the countervailing efforts to conceal it, reach ever combustible levels of outrage, welcome the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival to our nation’s capital!

Now in its fourth year, Double Exposure brings a deep exploration of the most essential social, political and humanitarian challenges confronting us today. Stories of old battles being fought in new ways, using new technology. Stories that span the globe — shocking, heartwarming, honest, and valuable.

“The festival is the creation of two sensibilities, investigative journalism and documentary film making,” says Sky Sitney, co-director of the Double Exposure Film Festival. “We recognized that really important stories are being covered by a variety of means. Journalists are increasingly using the visual realm of storytelling, while documentarians are uncovering truths deeply buried. We are seeking to bring these two worlds together.”

A total of 16 of the most striking new films, inspired by investigative reporting and the search for truth, will be presented over four days of the festival, a project of the investigative news organization 100Reporters. 100Reporters is a news organization that pushes for responsible journalism to hold governments and businesses accountable.

According to Unesco, investigative journalism can be defined as “the means of unveiling matters that are concealed, either deliberated by someone in the position of power, or accidentally… and the analysis and exposure of all relevant facts to the public.” It is this role of the media as “watchdog” that is “indispensable for democracy.”

Double Exposure seeks to shine a light on relentless investigative reporting while embracing exciting new forms of storytelling. “Filmmakers are really good at telling visual stories,” says Diana Jean Schemo, co-director of Double Exposure. “Reporters are looking at the facts and put themselves on the line in order to inform the public. We think these two sides could really learn a lot from each other.”

The rise of podcasts and serial podcasts, virtual reality, poetry, interactive digital or “hybrid” storytelling, even satirical news shows, present content in new and exciting ways to engage audiences differently, as well as disseminate information more widely. Double Exposure Film Festival will combine film screenings for the public with symposiums, discussions, workshops and master classes for journalists and visual storytellers. In addition, Double Exposure will feature a new initiative this year enabling registered participants to pitch ideas for investigative works, as well as, a legal clinic for storytellers who lack legal representation.

The official festival, kicks off Wedneday, October 10th 7pm at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery with a screening of “Watergate” by Academy Award winning director Charles Ferguson.The film, whose subtitle is “How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President” presumes to be a retrospective and turns out to be very timely. It is an in-depth look at the parallels between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, while never mentioning Trump by name.

The rest of the lineup, screening at the Naval Heritage Center and the National Union Building features:

· the provocatively named, “The Truth About Killer Robots” by Maxim Pozdorovkin reflecting on how far humanity has come in embracing automation;

· “Roll, Red, Roll” Nancy Schwartzman’s behind the scenes look at a high school sexual assault case and the social media aftermath of it;

· “Ghost Fleet”, an eye opening look at human slave trading practiced by the Thai fishing industry from filmmakers Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron;

· “Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram”, an HBO Original documentary that chronicals Nigerian school girls kidnapped and held for three years in traumatic imprisonment, their subsequent release and reentry into Nigerian society;

· Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, “Of Fathers and Sons”, Syrian filmmaker Talal Dirki’s chilling look at a jihadist military family; and

· “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes”, a damning documentary of the #Metoo era by Alexis Bloom

There are many more films waiting to be seen. “The lineup is exceptional. We are excited to bring these films to DC.” said Sky Sitney. Now is the chance to see these candid and timely films, many are fresh from the Toronto International Film Festival and have yet to be theatrically released to the general public.

This is DC at it finest. We get to play host to events like this that are not only timely and relevant, but directly related to what we see going on around us. From Trump and Kavanuagh, to the City Council overturning our voice on Initiative 77, we desperately need a free and skilled media to untangle connections and uproot stories that impact our lives. And this festival is both a celebration of that tradition, and an opportunity to interact directly with it.

As Washington whirls in partisan tugs of war and intractable divisions of real world consequences, Double Exposure Film Festival visits us, not as Lindsay Graham extolled in the Senate hearing on Judge Kavenaugh as “the wrong town, at the wrong time”, Double Exposure comes to the right town at the right time. Don’t miss it.

There will be Q&As with leading storytellers who go deep, panel discussions, workshops, and master classes for journalists and filmmakers, and so much more.

What: Double Exposure Film Festival

Dates: October 10ththrough October 14th

Where: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Naval Heritage Center, National Union Building, Washington D.C.

Times: Varied, Passes and Tickets Available online