Fragmented Voices: locating the grain of documentary sound ethics.

 Liz Greene (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)

In this paper I will investigate the relationship between sound and visual image in two documentary films: 48 (Susana de Sousa Dias, 2009) and We Were There (Laura Aguilar & Cahal McLaughlin, 2014). Both films focus on prison stories, 48 is based on prisoners’ experiences of the Portuguese dictatorship (1933-1974) and We Were There on The Maze prison as a site of Internment during the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1971-2000). I am specifically interested in how the voice is bridged in both of these documentary films, both of which stitch the audience into a cohesive narrative through the means of polyvocality. I will draw comparisons between the films whilst also asking broader questions about sound theory and practice for documentary film, and in particular, post-production sound. Part of this paper will be spent discussing my role as sound designer on We Were There, reflecting on the ethics of producing a cohesive soundtrack from fragmented stories that still bear the weight of a divided society.

Liz Greene is Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research interests are in film sound, the audiovisual essay and documentary film. She won an Irish Film and Television Academy Award for best sound in 2006 for the television series Pure Mule. She continues to work in film sound and recently worked on We Were There (2014), Breathe (2015) and Yakov Yanki Jack (2015). She has published articles in a number of journals and edited collections and is the co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media: Integrated Soundtracks (2016).