What is the biggest ethical concern for documentary today? Yes, it's a BIG question. But it's worth trying to answer even if it's not easy to do so. Ethics are such a big deal in documentary discourse, probably the toughest topic to wrap our heads around, or come to many conclusions about. Panels and lectures on documentary ethics can be found at nearly every film festival and conference, and sometimes they occur at more random times and places, too. And none of these discussions ever finish with definite resolutions.
Last week I attended one of these irregular events, one hosted by The New York Film/Video Council and titled "Crossing the Line? A conversation on ethics and documentary film." P.O.V.'s Yance Ford moderated the talk, which featured filmmakers Albert Maysles ('Grey Gardens'), Tia Lessin ('Trouble the Water'), Stephanie Wang-Breal ('I Love You, Mommy') and Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman ('Catfish') talking about dilemmas involving underage subjects, hidden cameras and representations of character.