ISSN 1016-1007 GPN2005600032
頁數:155﹣206 紀錄片再現原住民(族)的倫理爭議 ——以《未來無恙》、《阿查依蘭的呼喚》為例 Ethical Issues of Representing Taiwan Indigenous People with Documentaries
Salone Ishahavut
documentary filmmaking ethics, indigenous people, informed consent, historical context, spectacle
The literature of documentary ethics began to emerge in the West during the 1970s. If one carefully studies documentary films on Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, which have been the subject for over a hundred years, from the perspective of documentary ethics, then there are probably many films worth discussing. However, only the 2007 documentary “Honey Peach Grandma” provides more discussion on documentary ethics. When the documentaries “Turning 18” in 2019 and “The Way Home” in 2020 were released, they caused many protests from young indigenous people regarding the ethical issues raised in these two films, but received scant attention. Therefore, this research specifically discusses these two films from the perspective of documentary ethics. It should be emphasized that the ethical controversy of representing indigenous peoples in documentaries can occur regardless of whether the author(s) are indigenous or non-indigenous. This essay chooses these two films, not because of the ethnicity of the authors, but because these two films caused controversy that did not receive enough attention.

The main focus of this study is to analyze whether the subjects’ right to informed consent was properly exercised in two documentary films. Could the subjects potentially be harmed by the screening of the films? Did the content of the documentaries lack relevant historical context, thereby making it apolitical? What kind of impact could the screening of these films have on the audience and the subjects?

This study transcribes every scene of the two films into text to establish the films’ structure. Additionally, relevant media reports, personal statements, and discussions from social media related to the ethics of the documentaries are collected and compared for analysis of the films. Furthermore, young people who were involved in the filming process of the documentary “The Way Home” were interviewed to gain insights into the documentary filmmakers’ contact with the protesting family, the shooting process, and the family’s reactions after the film premiere.
This study finds that both films are controversial in terms of the informed consent of the subjects. In “Turning 18”, it is worth investigating whether the subjects had the legal capacity to consent to being filmed during the shooting period, and whether they were capable of understanding the potential impact of the film’s exposure. In “The Way Home”, the tribe and some of its members who were filmed were never given the opportunity to exercise their right to informed consent, and they were already filmed and included in the film as an important element of the plot. Additionally, when the members refused to be filmed or expressed different opinions on the story, the documentary filmmaker seemed to have ignored their requests.

In terms of the historical context, both films fail to fully present the complex context behind the difficult situations faced by the subjects. The main focus of both films is to create an aesthetic, poetic, or humorous style of sound and image that make the viewers be moved and to sympathize with the subjects. The political nature of these films originally should have had been erased.

The lack of historical context has far-reaching consequences. In terms of stereotypes, “Turning 18” replicates common stereotypes of indigenous peoples such as heavy drinking, poverty, backwardness, and overly optimism, but fails to help the audience understand the reasons behind these stereotypes. This may lead viewers to confirm that indigenous peoples can be described with simplified characteristics and are “others” who are somewhat different from the audience’s own ethnic group. In terms of spectacle, both films successfully depict the overly optimistic indigenous peoples when facing stunningly difficult situations, but fail to prompt viewers to think deeply about the reasons why indigenous peoples have fallen into such difficult situations. This prompts both films to serve as dazzling spectacles and visual consumer goods.

The lives of the subjects in “Turning 18” are not too far from their perceptions, while the story created in “The Way Home” deviates to some extent from the perceptions of some of the subjects due to the lack of family historical context, insufficient field investigation, and distorted on-site event contexts. This type of inspiring spectacle may not help viewers understand Paiwan culture, but instead may mislead them and may create negative impressions of such culture.

Regarding the harm caused to the subjects after the screening, “Turning 18” provides insufficient protection for the two girls and their families, making it easy for them to be identified. This may result in negative discussions and criticism of the film’s content for many years. “The Way Home” has caused great distress to Gao Yujin and her family, who even resorted to legal action to protest against the film. Documentary filmmakers can return to their original lives safely after filming and screening, but if they do not handle the film properly, then those who appear in the film with their true identities and faces may have to live with the impact and harm brought by the film for the rest of their lives.

This study suggests that when documentary filmmakers are shooting films with the difficult situation of Indigenous peoples as the main theme, they should conduct detailed field investigations and literature research, interview those who are being filmed, and respect their opinions. Filmmakers should try to present a detailed family history context or a larger historical, political, and economic context. Before shooting, those who are being filmed should exercise their right to informed consent. If the person being filmed decides not to participate, then the filmmaker should stop filming and delete any relevant footage. If the person being filmed agrees to participate, then the filmmaker should do one’s best to provide adequate protection and minimize the impact on the subject’s future lives. Regardless of whether filmmakers are Indigenous persons or not, they need to invest more time and energy to understand the unique culture and complex history behind the stories of those who are being filmed in order to produce works that respect Indigenous people and their views as well as avoid creating works that are apolitical due to the lack of historical context.
2023/ 春