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Documenting Survivors of Trauma: Ethics and Consent


Survivors of gender-based violence are featured prominently in a myriad of documentaries and journalistic stories. Despite the best intentions of the filmmakers and journalists behind these works, there is an unfortunate legacy of unintended consequences for survivors after sharing their stories—be it physical, emotional, political, or familial.

Co-presented with Documentary Accountability Working Group, this conversation brings together human rights experts, advocates, filmmakers, and mental health professionals to discuss what it means to ethically document survivors' stories, the potential for shared standards across fields, and the meaning of informed consent in a media context. 

Moderated by IDA’s Maggie Bowman, panelists include:

  • Sherizaan Minwalla, human rights lawyer and researcher;
  • Belkis Wille, Human Rights Watch Researcher;
  • Daffodil Altan, filmmaker and correspondent for Frontline;
  • Andrés Cediel, documentary filmmaker and journalism professor at UC Berkeley
  • Natalie Bullock-Brown, filmmaker and member of Documentary Accountability Working Group; and
  • Navila Rashid, forensic social worker.

This digital event will have ASL and live captioning provided.

Panelist Bios

From left to right: Sherizaan Minwalla, Belkis Wille, Daffodil Altan, Andres Cediel, Natalie Bullock-Brown and Navila Rashid.

Sherizaan Minwalla is an American human rights lawyer with more than a decade leading development programs in Iraq promoting the rule of law and human rights. She co-authored two publications drawing attention to unethical practices by the media when reporting on conflict related sexual violence, Voices of Yazidi Women: Perceptions of journalistic practices in the reporting on ISIS sexual violence and Genocide, Rape and Careless Disregard: Media Ethics and the Problematic Reporting on Yazidi Survivors of ISIS Captivity. She is a strong advocate for women and girls impacted by gender-based violence and human trafficking, and for survivor-centered approaches to working with and engaging with individuals who have experienced trauma.

Belkis Wille is a senior researcher with the Conflict and Crisis division at Human Rights Watch. Before taking up the role, Wille worked for three and a half years as Human Rights Watch’s senior Iraq researcher, and before that was the Kuwait, Qatar and Yemen researcher, based in Sanaa, for three and a half years. Previously, Wille worked at the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture, carrying out advocacy and trainings on torture prevention in Libya. Wille received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, her graduate diploma in law from City University London, and her LLM in human rights and humanitarian law from the University of Essex. She speaks English, German, French, and Arabic.

Daffodil Altan is an Emmy-winning director, producer and correspondent for FRONTLINE, PBS’s flagship investigative documentary series. Most recently she directed, produced, and was the correspondent for "COVID’s Hidden Toll" (2020), the latest installment in her award-winning body of work exposing the hidden realities facing low-wage immigrant workers in the U.S., many of whom are undocumented. She directed, produced and was the correspondent for the Emmy-winning, "Kids Caught in the Crackdown" (2019), a collaboration with the Associated Press that examined the lasting impact on children held in U.S. custody, and Trafficked in America (2018), which told the inside story of Guatemalan teens who were forced to work against their will on an Ohio egg farm, and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. She produced and directed the Emmy-nominated, Rape on the Night Shift (2015), which investigated the rampant sexual assault of immigrant women at work and led to legislative reform in several states She has produced print, radio and television stories for Reveal, KQED, The PBS Newshour, MSNBC, Telemundo, The Los Angeles Times, The OC Weekly, Mother Jones, among others. She has received recognition for her work from the Scripps Howard foundation, Harvard’s Kennedy School, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., The Third Coast Audio Festival, The Society of Professional Journalists, The Los Angeles Press Club and the Imagen Foundation. She is a MacArthur, IDA and Latino Public Broadcasting grantee, and has a master’s degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she is also a lecturer.

Andrés Cediel is a documentary filmmaker and Professor of Visual Journalism. He produced Rape in the Fields and was a writer and producer of Rape on the Night Shift which brought to light rampant sexual assault of immigrant women in the agricultural and janitorial industries. The two films, which aired in both English and Spanish, were produced at the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) and were part of a multi-media collaboration with FRONTLINE, Univision, the Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED. The films combined to win a duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the RFK Grand Prize for Journalism, and were nominated for four national Emmys. He was a writer and producer of Trafficked in America, which exposed the government’s role in the labor trafficking of Guatemalan teenagers at an Ohio egg farm. The piece was produced out of Investigative Studios, and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. Cediel’s previous work with FRONTLINE included a series on death investigation with ProPublica, and a series on climate change for the international magazine show FRONTLINE World. Previously, he co-produced The Judge and the General, a dupont-Columbia Journalism winner and Emmy nominated film which chronicled human rights cases against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Cediel graduated from Brown University and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Natalie Bullock-Brown is an award-winning producer, a director, and a professor. She attended Howard University’s MFA program in film production where she was exposed to the work of the late filmmaker Marlon Riggs, and inspired to pursue a career in documentary film. Natalie has worked with Ken Burns, and currently produces with award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt on his upcoming PBS documentary, HAZING. She is director/producer of a work-in-progress that explores the impact of white beauty standards on Black women and girls, and is actively involved in the push for accountable and ethical storytelling within the documentary field as a member of the Documentary Accountability Working Group (D. A. W. G.). Natalie is also an educator who currently teaches Africana studies, women’s and gender studies, and film. She also has extensive experience as a public affairs television host, and as a public radio personality. A native Chicagoan, Natalie currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

Navila Rashid is a Muslim, Queer, Bangladeshi-American. She’s a trauma-informed forensic social worker, community educator, and gender based violence consultant. She joined HEART in 2019 full-time, and is the Outreach and Community Engagement Manager. Before HEART, Navila was consulting for public defenders, government agency staff, and nonprofits to support in creating safe(r) spaces for victims & survivors either through organizational programming or 1:1 case management.Navila also Co-Founded ‘The Cathartist’ in 2012, a web-based platform for victims & survivors, allies, and co-conspirators to find a safe, judgement-free home for their storytelling as a part of their journey on coping and healing. Navila is also featured as a survivor in the award winning documentary, Breaking Silence, where she addresses the nuances and experiences of being a survivor of sexual violence in a Muslim and South Asian community, and the journey towards healing. She earned her Master’s in Social Work from Long Island University-Brooklyn, a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Biology from University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a BS in Health Science and Creative Writing from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Navila is currently located in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia).