“Don’t pick up a gun, pick up a camera”. They´re not my words – but those of documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan, worthy winner of this year’s Rory Peck Trust Sony Impact award.
Deeyah is a truly amazing person. Drawing on her own personal life experiences, she tells stories that force us to think, analyse and change our behaviours. Her skill as a communicator lies in an ability to build and illustrate narratives that resonate with audiences around the world, throwing the spotlight onto often unsettling and disturbing issues. This is investigative journalism at its very best. And just as Deeyah’s work is exceptional, she is just one of many film-makers sharing the same integrity, vision and passion for change.
There have never been more opportunities for journalists and documentary makers like Deeyah to reach out to a worldwide audience. Technology is both an enabler and an amplifier, allowing us to capture and share images that tell the truth with unprecedented immediacy. In the 1950s and 60s, visionaries like Martin Luther King was supported through the power of visual media in his plight to change humanity. Back then the only platform to achieve this was television – a medium restricted at the time only to a privileged audience who could afford a TV set.
Now, of course, the picture is very different. There’s a dizzying choice of channels and digital platforms to share content captured with low-cost cameras and smartphones. Technology has transformed news from a monologue into a conversation. Inspired by what we see on TV, Twitter or YouTube, as individuals we now have the agency to frame our own responses and share them online. A clip attracting 100 million views can lead directly to intervention in a humanitarian crisis or even trigger government policy change. And in an era of fake news, of course, the unprecedented power of media means we need to curate values like honesty, transparency and integrity more carefully than ever.
Working at Sony Professional, I’ve got a lot of reasons to be proud of our support for the work of journalists and film-makers around the world. I’m particularly proud of my own company’s involvement with BBC Media Action, the international development charity that harnesses the power of media to help reduce poverty, improve health and improve response to humanitarian crises.
And I’m equally proud of Sony’s ongoing support for charities like the Rory Peck Trust – an association now in its 20th year – that celebrates the courage of individuals to tell stories that not everybody wants to hear, yet should not be ignored.
There are many good reasons to thank the immensely brave and talented media professionals who are changing the world with cameras rather than guns. We should all be inspired by film-makers like Deeyah and thousands of others who are committed to exposing the truth – and making our world a better, safer, kinder, healthier place to live in.