Seeing is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News

Directed by Katerina Cizek & Peter Wintonick

58 minutes / Color
Release: 2003
Copyright: 2002

It may be the greatest media technology paradigm shift since TV's advent. From Rodney King to Osama Bin Laden, handicams aren't just for weddings and family vacations anymore. Over the past decade, amateur camcorders have become the eyes of the world when no one else is watching.

Human rights activists, war crimes investigators, right-wing proselytizers and ordinary citizens are arming themselves with the tools of the new visual revolution. For two years filmmakers Katerina Cizek and Peter Wintonick crossed the world tracking media activists to look at what happens when front-line advocates pick up personal camcorders to document what they see. What are the risks and responsibilities? What are the wider impacts on television, audiences, and society?

SEEING IS BELIEVING discusses the history of the camcorder and illuminates the work and words of key international journalists and media activists. And it shines a verité spotlight on the compelling story of Joey Lozano, a courageous video-activist who documents rights abuses against indigenous people in dangerous corners of the Philippines. But does Joey's camera prevent violence - or jeopardize lives?

Drawn from original shooting around the world, and sampling hundreds of hours of exclusive contemporary archives, SEEING IS BELIEVING provides a dramatic and multi-faceted window into the power of do-it-yourself filmmaking.

"Fascinating… SEEING IS BELIEVING is essential viewing, particularly for those who still harbour naive notions that the mainstream news media will provide us with all the coverage of world affairs that we need." —Basem Boshra, Montreal Gazette

"An interesting examination of the impact of modern recording devices. Convincingly demonstrates the power of images in increasing awareness of wrong-doing and extremism, but also reveals how the same devices can be used to less altruistic ends. Recommended!" —Video Librarian

"A particularly engaging piece of work... Significant and useful for collections supporting documentary studies." —Ken Nolley, H-Film

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A Film by Katerina Cizek & Peter Wintonick

Select Accolades

  • 2004 Association for Asian Studies Film Festival
  • 2003 Award of Commendation, Society for Visual Anthropology
  • 2003 American Anthropological Association Film Festival
  • Abraham Award, Conflict & Resolution Series, 2002 Hamptons Film Festival
  • 2002 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival


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