Muhlenberg College Fall 2019


“Stranger With A Camera” Reflection

I found Elizabeth Barret’s documentary work “Stranger With A Camera” very interesting. I like the way she told the story by narrating in the background while also incorporating interviews, and old video footage. She stated that as a filmmaker she wanted to show her community as it was, in order to protect the community. Her goal while being a film maker was to be truthful when documenting the experiences of others. By directing this film it caused Barrett to generate interesting questions one being, can filmmakers show poverty without causing social embarrassment? A message I took from Barret was that media images are powerful and they can cause conflicting emotions.

Specifically, within this documentary she wanted to “fairly” portray the stories of both O’Connor and Ison when sharing the story of the death of O’Connor. Hobart Ison was a local of Jeremiah, Kentucky who would rent out land to Appalachian Miners. Looking at the side of Ison, he believed that these filmmakers were exposing the poverty lifestyle that these numerous families faced. These families lived in small cabins with little food. He felt that by their pictures being taken of themselves and their homes as well as the coal miners, they were being depicted poorly and being exposed by the filmmaker. The goal of O’Connor and the other contributors was to document the change in the original “American dream” versus the life of miners in mountains. O’Connor (a cameraman for this project) was well known for being an excellent storyteller, was shot by Ison because he entered the property of Ison in effort to document pictures of coal miner workers.