News

There Are Three Sides to Every Story...

10 February 2017

In a special pre-Conference blog, AIDC CEO and Conference Director ANDREW WISEMAN delves into the inspiration behind this year's theme, 'Three Sides to Every Story'...

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AIDC 2017 is just around the corner – the program is set, the guests are packing their bags and it’s time for every delegate to burrow into the detail of the schedule and work out what will be of most benefit for them across the four packed days of the event.

AIDC is all about making connections – connections between all those who work in this part of the screen sector. Connections between ideas and creativity and business, and connections between stories. The architecture of the conference is in place and its 40-plus sessions, masterclasses, screenings and networking events will provide a brilliant opportunity for people to interact, to learn and to be inspired.

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THE overarching conference theme, the concept that percolates through the whole program is, "there are three sides to every story". 

The inspiration comes from a pithy quote by actor and producer Robert Evans (Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown) and the 2002 documentary based on his memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture - "There are three sides to every story…your side, my side, and the truth…"

When we were developing the theme in 2016 we couldn’t have imagined that its relevance would align so crisply with events playing out on the world stage.

We live in interesting times and questions surrounding story and manipulation and what constitutes fact and truth have, perhaps, never been more crucial to explore. The theme is posed as a statement but raises many questions. Are stories always malleable and open to different interpretations and multiple perspectives or are some stories concrete and unchanging?

We are living, according to some, in a ‘post-truth’, ‘alternative fact’ kind of world where news, fake news, unsubstantiated claims and deliberately deceptive assertions jostle for space and internet time. If stories can be easily and widely disseminated and if they can be manipulated, often with mendacious intent, how do we respond to the stories that we encounter?

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TWO sides of a story we kind of get – one position and perhaps a counter position, but what of this third side, this Tertium quid – the undefined thing – the third view. A view that can only exist because of the first two sides, but which adds another way of perceiving not only the whole story, but also how the first two perspectives were arrived at. Maybe it is this third side of a story that rattles our shibboleths and shakes us to the very core.

If there aren’t three sides to every story, or at least three sides, then every story is, by definition a kind of brittle dichotomy of opposing view-points. It’s either one perspective or another. No doubt this binary world suits some in power who seek to reduce options to combative alternatives that are starkly drawn. 

Maybe one duty of story is to resist the temptation to create simple paradigms and to challenge those who would tell us that we must choose between one narrative or another. But hey, that’s just my response to the theme. Maybe I’m blind to other sides of the story…

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ACROSS this year’s AIDC, speakers and decision makers and delegates can allow this theme to permeate their exchanges and inform their sessions. To mention just a few set to wrestle with the theme…

More Than A Game is about sport - and not about sport at all. This session explores how the truth is affected by the cultural and historical conditions in which it is told. In this context, guilty and innocent become conflated, as fact and fiction meld. From O.J. Simpson’s murder trial to the doping scandal of the 1988 Summer Olympics, John Battsek and Ezra Edelman consider what truth means for them in the context of the sports documentary.

Defiant Lives is a powerful film that aims to revise history through the lens of disability. Refusing to allow the omission of powerful activist voices from being heard, director Sarah Barton has crafted a piece of cinema designed to give voice to those whose history has been silenced, and asks pertinent questions about what this new knowledge means for us moving into the future.

At the Robin Anderson ‘State of the Art’ Address, “reformed lawyer” turned social justice activist, Mariam Veiszadeh will tackle the theme of ‘three sides to every story’ in the context of her tireless work in promoting tolerance and diversity in Australia.

And then there's Political Documentary in a Post-Truth WorldAt a time when fake news is said to have helped swing an election result, finding varied and reliable sources of information has never been more important. But with traditional broadcast platforms under siege from a slew of digital competitors expanding at a rate of knots, how do we ensure the integrity of storytelling in our post-truth world? Anna Broinowski (Pauline Hanson: Please Explain?), Nicola Harvey (Buzzfeed), Matt Davis (Foreign Correspondent) and a special guest moderator will help us find out.

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FOR me, one of the real delights of the compelling documentary story is that it probes and explores and, by doing so, entertains. It begins with a questioning base and announces itself by declaring, “I don’t know what’s going on here but I would like to see more clearly, for all my instincts tell me there is more here than meets the eye.” I reckon the assumption that underpins this approach is that there are multiple ways to engage with and depict the world around us. But again, that’s just my very subjective response.

Whatever your take on the theme, “There are three sides to every story…” I think it’s fair to say that good stories have the potential to make engaging and compelling connections. 

At AIDC we welcome tellers of tales, diverse voices and people from many lands who can excite us, challenge us and engage us with their distinctive take on the world. There should be no barriers to their ability to tell stories and certainly no barriers to travelling the world in order to do so. For it is these voices that nourish the larger human narrative and it is these voices that make every side to a story so fascinating.

Andrew Wiseman
CEO & Conference Director
Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC)

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