Attendance at this year’s Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (August 23 to 25) held steady at 1,600. On the rise, however, was the attention paid by non-fiction TV and film producers to the changed landscape in which they operate since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
According to festival director Sarah Barnett, there is renewed interest in safety for journalists in the field. The overall consensus from one session on filmmaking in battle zones was that film crews need to add an expert in discerning possible combat hazards. ‘Instead of producers, have security advisors. So, you have a cameraman, a correspondent, and a security advisor, who is pointing out mines and booby traps,’ Barnett explains.
A session about the coverage of Muslims showed many broadcasters are wanting. ‘There was general criticism about how [reporters] only interview young men who are off to fight for bin Laden and portray Muslims as extremists,’ says Barnett.
Concerns about violence and the portrayal of faith in the media came to a head during the screening of one of the four episodes of Age of Terror, a copro of Discovery Networks International and London, U.K.-based 3BM Television.
The screening of the 50-minute episode ‘In the Name of God’ left little time for discussion, says 3BM’s Dan Korn, who sat on a panel as part of the showcase. The program touched a nerve with some audience members, who afterward stood up and argued that the film portrays the Jewish community in a poor light. ‘They misunderstood. We were… making the point that religion and violence have always been close bedfellows,’ says Korn, who added that several members of the production team are Jewish.