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Picking The Battle: The Law & Ethics of Human Rights Entertainment

Blood diamonds. Censorship battles. The role of lawyers behind the scenes. Ethics, shmethics, and sexual assault. Watch the first panel of Lights. Camera. Reaction., featuring directors Ed Zwick and Amy Ziering. 

April 4, 2018  |  by Creative Armenia

Lights. Camera. Reaction. was a groundbreaking summit on human rights entertainment that took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on March 16. Co-hosted by Creative Armenia, The Promise Institute, and UCLA’s Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, the event combined some of the world’s most accomplished directors, producers, and legal minds. The evening culminated with the first Promise Institute Award for Contributions to Human Rights through the Arts, which was received by actress Mira Sorvino.

The summit’s opening panel, Picking The Battle, focused on the legal obstacles and ethical obligations – and threats of soft censorship – that face any filmmaker who deals with a hot-button story. The panel features Oscar-winning director Ed Zwick (Blood Diamond, Glory), documentary filmmaker Amy Ziering (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War), and entertainment law experts Daniel M. Mayeda (Associate Director, Documentary Legal Film Clinic at UCLA School of Law) and Kelli Sager (Davis Wright Tremaine LLP). The panel was curated by The Promise Institute at UCLA School of Law and moderated by the director of its Documentary Legal Film Clinic, Dale Cohen (author of Media and The Law).

Below are some highlights followed by the full video of the panel.

Ed Zwick on whether a film like Blood Diamond could get made today:

Kelli Sager on how lawyers can help the creative process without stifling it:

Daniel M. Mayeda on the importance of analyzing legal risk before the final cut:

Amy Ziering on her battles with distributors over censorship:

Watch the full discussion here: