Visual and Media Arts faculty members Laurel Greenberg and Marc Fields with documentary filmmaker Peter Davis at Emerson's It's All True documentary film festival at the Paramount Center on April 1. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)
Oscar Award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist Peter Davis spoke with Emerson students in three events April 1–2 as part of the It’s All True Documentary Film Festival, which was held over two nights at the Paramount Center.
Davis hosted a screening and discussion of his 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds that examined the Vietnam War on April 1; and he hosted a screening of Emerson student documentaries from the Visual and Media Arts Department on April 2.
He also spoke with Journalism and Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies students in a classroom lecture on April 2.
In the classroom talk, Davis said he used no narration in Hearts and Minds because it helped humanize the horrors of what people experienced.
“I’m there looking at the war. I want you to see it how I did. But I don’t want to let you know about it,” he said.
Filmmaker Peter Davis speaks with Brooke Knight, chair of Visual and Media Arts, and Rob Sabal, interim dean of the School of the Arts. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)
Davis said he wanted to evoke the same pain he felt about the war onto those who watched.
Davis said his documentaries about war focus more on emotion than ideology.
“I have gone to cover a couple of wars in order to see what the face of America is when it puts itself into another country and occupies it and fights there,” he said.
He said that it was important that he did not preach throughout his film.
Davis has won numerous awards for his work over the past four decades, including a Peabody, Emmy, and Polk for his 1971 film, The Selling of the Pentagon, which was an investigative piece on U.S. Defense Department public relations.
He is also an author and journalist who has reported for New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The Nation, the Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times. His new novel, which captures 1930s Hollywood, Girl of My Dreams, is scheduled for release on May 19.
Peter Davis speaks with Miranda Banks, assistant professor in Visual and Media Arts, at the Paramount Center. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)