Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Notes on Blindness 2016

Directed by Peter Middleton, James Spinney

Over three years, writer and theologian John Hull kept a series of audio diaries recounting his experience after losing his eyesight. This inventive documentary transposes his perceptions to film with startling success.

UK In English
90 minutes CinemaScope/DCP
Exempt

Directors/Screenplay

Producers

Mike Brett
,
Jo-Jo Ellison
,
Steve Jamison
,
Peter Middleton
,
James Spinney
,
Alex Usborne

Photography

Gerry Floyd

Editor

Julian Quantrill

Production designer

Damien Creagh

Sound

Joakim Sundström

Music

James Ewers

With

Dan Skinner (John Hull)
,
Simone Kirby (Marilyn Hull)

Festivals

Sundance
,
Tribeca
,
San Francisco 2016

Awards

Special Jury Prize (Documentary)
,
San Francisco International Film Festival 2016

“In 1983, after years of failing sight, John Hull, a professor of theology in Birmingham, England, became completely blind. Soon after, he began keeping an audio diary, saying, ‘I had to think about blindness, because if I didn’t understand it, it would defeat me’. The understanding he reached, through years of quiet and sometimes painful probing, was profound: Oliver Sacks called the published version of Hull’s diaries ‘the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read’.

In this penetrating and eloquent documentary, filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney have mined Hull’s original tapes as well as interviews with Hull and his wife to evoke Hull’s inner world. The film combines the voices of Hull and his family – performed by actors and woven into a sensitive sound design by the accomplished sound editor Joakim Sundström – with images that represent his experiences, memories and dreams through reenactment and metaphor. Tracing Hull’s struggle ‘to retain the fullness of my humanity’, Notes on Blindness conjures both the loveliness of a visual world tragically lost to him and the value of what remains. For Hull, out of sight was never out of mind.”  Juliet Clark, San Francisco International Film Festival

“Creatively rearranging reality to put a viewer inside someone else’s head is the finest aim of non-fiction filmmaking, and this documentary pulls that off with both stylistic panache and emotional grace.” Daniel Schindel, The Film Stage