By Andrea Patiño
It’s hard to believe that ten months have passed already and that my time as a Hine Fellow has come to an end. As I reflect on the experience of working full-time producing documentary work, I can say that this has been a profoundly rewarding year, full of learning experiences, the discovery of new places, and the formation of new and invaluable relationships.
Editing was a particularly interesting phase of the project, as I had to condense over 20 hours of footage into 20 minutes of film. This is the first time that I engaged in a project this long and interacted with my subjects for months. Consequently, I got to know them very well and became quite close to some. This certainly put more pressure on me during the editing phase when I was choosing what to include and what to leave out. How did my personal relationship with them alter my view of them? What elements influenced my decisions to include certain scenes that portrayed them in particular ways, as opposed to other ones that may have given my viewers a different impression? How did my choices of using certain music at certain times affect the overall mood of the films?
These are all questions that I had contemplated in the past, but having to think about them as I produced my work was especially thought-provoking. Representing others is a complicated matter and the lines between “objectivity” and “subjectivity” are oftentimes—if not always—rather blurry. The question of objectivity while documenting has always fascinated both documentarians and viewers. The popular belief tells us that documentaries should, at all costs, portray the truth. But what does that really mean? Documentary makers have certainly moved past the question to explore this issue in more realistic ways: from films that consider intimate family stories to ones where the process of documenting is part of the film, the genre has evolved to convey that the process of documenting human experiences and relationships—both with each other and with the world around us—is equally complicated.
Although I decided to stick to a more traditional way of documentation for this particular project—partly because I was producing work that will be used by a non-profit organization—I considered all these questions very seriously during the entirety of the process. After all these months I can only say, with more conviction than ever, that the importance of documentary work is infinite, not only because documentaries are an important vehicle of information and knowledge, but also because they allow us to examine ourselves and at the communities with which we work in the process.
*You can check out all the work that I created for Raw Art Works at www.rawchiefs.org.