18 Sep 2014
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A sign of The Times: newspaper invests in online film series

The Times this month released 'Bearing Witness', the seventh instalment in an online film series created by the iconic newspaper. 

The Unquiet Film Series, is a collection of films “celebrating the historical and cultural impact of The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers”. The films have been created by leading filmmakers with The Times providing unprecedented access to its archives. 

'Bearing Witness' tells the story of the kidnapping and return of Times award-winning foreign correspondent Anthony Loyd and photographer Jack Hill. The pair were captured and brutally beaten in May while reporting in Syria. The film tells their story through interviews with the two men and their editors at The Times. 

The film examines the complex nature of citizen journalism versus independent foreign correspondents and the growing dangers that journalists face in hostile environments. It also looks at The Times heritage in war-time journalism – which dates back to the Crimean War and beyond into the 1700s. 

The series aims to shine a light on the invaluable contribution The Times have made to Britain’s history and culture. Other Films in the series include: 

‘Power of Words', which examines the worlds of Times writers Caitlin Moran, Ben Macintyre and Matthew Parris.

'Question Everything', which explores the work of investigative journalism through two journalists journey to uncover claims: Brian Deer's work on the MMR scare and David Walsh's 13 year investigation into Lance Armstrong’s doping revelations.  

'Times New Roman', which looks at design and fonts.

'Photojournalism', which explores the tradition and art of photography in journalism. 

'Cultural Impact', which looks at the power and inspiration of journalistic writing and how it has inspired and changed cultures. 

'Bringing The World To Britian', looks at the role of foreign correspondents and follows Christina Lamb's career with The Times. 

The films are hosted on a dedicated site and are also available on ForeverUnquiet.co.uk and on YouTube. 

Nick Stringer, Director of Marketing Communications at News UK, said: “Great journalism can take up a cause, drive change and influence an effect. The Times and The Sunday Times have always strived to be an agent of change and their restless journalism has led to the telling of some of the most important stories in history.”

Phil Lind, Creative & Commercials Director at Betsy Works, said: "Some of the best independent directors were given unique access to The Times and The Sunday Times and an open brief to try and capture the essence of the titles in film. The results are as varied in scope and style as they are in time and geography, but when you put them together as a series, a common theme emerges -- " a drive to tell stories with substance."

  • REVIEW 
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The Times have created a film series to remind people of the importance of its papers and its ongoing role in their lives. And it's a pretty impressive statement. 

Through a series of beautifully told stories, The Times has reminded people of the important role it has played within British history and culture since it began reporting back in the 1700s. 

It couldn’t come at a better time. The News Of The World scandals, journalists behaving badly and the subsequent Levenson enquiry, has exposed the murky and dispicable elements of tabloid journalism to the British public. In doing so it has smeared the entire institution of journalism, particularly the Murdoch owned papers which includes The Times. 

With the British people’s trust for journalists at an all time low, and the ongoing battle to get people to not only buy newspapers but to pay for content online, The Times needed to change the conversation. 

If there is one thing journalists, particularly British journalists, understand it’s how to set the agenda. 

The Times have looked to reinforce the strength of its iconic masthead by reminding people of its history, heritage and gravitas. That’s what this series is all about. 

The Times and The Sunday Times has always positioned the brand as the authoritative voice of England.  While The Guardian, for instance, has looked to emerging technologies and positioned itself as a news brand for the digital age, The Times has played on its status, history and heritage.

So it is no surprise that they have taken this route and it’s extremely clever too. With the British people skeptical of the independence, honesty and veracity of the press, why not open everything up, the archives and all, to independent filmmakers to come in, dig about and make some films. 

It sends a clear message that unlike other nasty papers, The Times has nothing to hide – in fact it has so much to say. 

By engaging filmmakers and other storytellers to tell their stories, the authority of The Times is also reinforced, the credibility and gravitas of its staff, structures and processes is showcased for all to see.

The films, particularly the ones about investigative journalism and foreign correspondents, send strong messages about ethics and the responsibility of the press. 

It couldn’t have come at a better time either. Around the world the rights to freedom of speech, privacy and the role of the media is under intense scrutiny. 

The timing of this latest film, 'Bearing Witness', is remarkably eiree, coming just weeks after the deaths of kidnapped journalists in Syria. These incidents have stirred up the debate around the role of foreign correspondents and journalists within dangerous war zones and this film is well placed within those conversations. 

And that is exactly what journalism is all about, adding different viewpoints and stories to the debate to allow readers to make an informed decision. 

I studied journalism so I am possibly biased in my absolute adoration of what The Times are doing here. However, this series reinforces all that is important about journalism. 

As the ethical, reasoned, unbiased journalism becomes lost under the flood of sensational, headline-grabbing, shouting opinions of the 24-hour news cycle, it is welcome change to watch a film that reminds us of why any of it matters and what is really important. 

The Unquiet Film series is a collaboration between News UK, Grey London and production company Betsy Works.  The series has been led by Phil Lind, who is ex 4Creative and ITV, and the filmmakers such as Liz Unna, Will Clark, Simon George, Steven Qua, have all done a great job of creating compelling and interesting content. 

This is not stories about The Times, made by The Times, and that’s precisely what makes it so much more interesting. By engaging professional filmmakers and storytellers to tell the stories, behind the stories – it’s brings a different viewpoint and makes it so much more interesting.  

The stories are remarkable. This series is a monumental achievement, rivaled only by the truth itself. The Times have achieved something extraordinary with these films and created inspiring and thought-provoking content. Let’s hope this continues to evolve with more and more films over time to become a living archive of films. 

  • VERDICT
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The Times have created a masterpiece in storytelling. I think it is brilliant. Let's have some more please. 5 stars. 


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