JULIA BACHA ON USING DOCUMENTARY FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Friday, 6 July 2012

Award-winning Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha is the Media Director at Just Vision, an organisation that raises awareness of nonviolent activism in the Israel-Palestine conflict through films and outreach campaigns. Julia tells us why she got into film and shares her advice for would-be social issue documentary makers…

When did you decide you wanted to be a filmmaker? 
I never expected to have a career in film. At first I was going to be a lawyer but ended up studying Middle Eastern history at Columbia University in New York and then thought I would go down an academic path. I got accepted to do a master’s at Tehran University in Iran, but when I graduated in 2003 the US had just invaded Iraq so I couldn’t get my visa. I got invited by a filmmaker to come to Egypt to intern on a project. My hope was that from Egypt I would be able to get my visa to Iran.

When I arrived and started looking through footage she had captured from the Iraq war, that was a turning point for me. I had been engaged politically against the war and saw a chance to channel my frustration. I taught myself Final Cut Pro and became the editor and writer of the film. Control Room premiered at Sundance. It was one of the highest grossing political documentaries of all times in the States and the first film with a more critical view of how American journalists had covered Iraq, so it really had an impact. I realised that documentary offered an opportunity to do a lot of the same work I wanted to do in academia, but to have a wider public.



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