American documentary filmmaker Judith Ehrlich spoke on the topic "Documentary Film as a lens on the state of war". She has focused her career on films that explore questions of war and conscience. Does historical documentary film offer a useful perspective on the perennial state of war in the world?
The lecture was punctuated by film clips and aimed to uncover the narrative of war making and war resistance through Ehrlich’s films and others that focus on the question of war and its impact on individual warriors and resisters and their governments. Does the reality and/or the threat of war make transparency and truth in government impossible? What can film tell us about why we fight? And why is it so difficult to question the morality of war? Can our understanding of the inevitability of war be altered by the images of documentary film? Indeed, can the legitimate role of historical documentary film move beyond entertainment and education and inspire some to activism?
Ehrlich’s film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” was nominated for the 2009 Academy Award and has won eight International film festival awards. It will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on 10 and 14 June and begins a theatrical run on 20 June at the Chauvel Cinema. Her previous film for U.S. Public television, “The Good War and Those who refused to Fight it” the story of conscientious objectors to WWII won both major American film history awards.
Ian McPherson, who died in 1980, helped found the Sydney Film Festival in 1954 and served on the Festival Board until 1977. Previous McPherson lectures have been given by John Gillett, Lindsay Anderson, Joseph Skrzynski, Ulrich Gregor, Susan Dermody, Moya Wood, Peter Watkins, Kim Williams, Peter Sainsbury, George Miller, Dennis O'Rourke, Donald Richie, David Robinson, John Flaus, Liz Jacka, David Stratton, Ian David, Professor Marcia Langton, David Marr, Professor Tom O'Regan, Bob Connolly, Nik Powell, Dr. David McKnight, Brian Rosen, Bird Runningwater, John Hartley, Deepak Nayar and Peter Carlton. The 2010 lecture was the 30th in the series.