The State of Truth: 2020

BY RYAN CHUA

This year, Perspectives Film Festival’s mission of presenting breakthroughs in cinema arrives amidst a deadly global pandemic. Now more than ever, is the time to confront the tough realities we live in. PFF 2020 will be deep diving into the realm of Truth, where we will consider how cinema presents the complexities of truth, acknowledging in the process the subjective and multidimensional nature of it. Through this, we may find the fairest truths that can assure, enlighten and equip us for living in a new normal.

 

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” 
Abraham Lincoln

 

“Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.” 
Jawaharlal Nehru

 

The advent of the modern scientific method has helped us deepen our understanding of the world. Yet, we now find ourselves too reliant on the idea of empirical truths. 

Across the past months of facing COVID-19, everyone has been asking the same questions:

 

© Perspectives Film Festival 2020

 

But when the media bombards us with a myriad of conflicting answers to these questions, we must look carefully for the truths we seek. How do we make it out alive, and work together for a hopeful future?

The debate over what truth is has been linked irrevocably with the concepts of knowledge and communication, making it an enigma debated by all human civilisations. As our technology and civilisation advance, we will inevitably face new challenges in our pursuit of truths.      

The Internet and social media allows anyone to broadcast their opinions, or rather their own truths, to the rest of the world. As the world continues to grow more interconnected, the glorious freedom of expression has superseded traditional boundaries of communication, especially geographical ones. Anyone can say anything, but should everyone believe everything?

Before the world had the giant chat room that is the Internet, one had to possess authority to broadcast to the masses. The media was trusted to deliver meaningful truths – a power vested in them by governments, whose powers were vested by the people. Now, we have access to not just the truths purported by our local media, but also voices of a global population. We cannot generalise the media and the people on the Internet, but this new development has resulted in the need for us to consider how we consume and construct our truths. 

 

© Perspectives Film Festival 2020

As A Thousand Cuts and Feels Good Man present through the case studies of Filipino and American politics, social media has become a crucial political battleground. But not all is fair in love and war. The uncharted territory of social media as a political arena has allowed groups to weaponise truth with novel Internet tools, such as bots and memes. This brings to the table the global trend of populism and extreme political polarisation, calling into question the right and ability of the government to always be arbiters of truth.

Even as distrust of mainstream media and governments grows in the world, trusting in the unfiltered truths of the people is a precarious choice to make. The trend of online vigilantism and social justice can leverage the viral reach of social media, but the lack of a credible truth filter fuels the dangerous weaponisation of social media. 

Despite the wealth of information and perspectives made accessible to us thanks to the Internet, discerning fact from fiction becomes more crucial than ever before. The future looks set to present new challenges, such as deepfakes and smarter Artificial Intelligence. 

Be that as it may, truth provides an irreplaceable source of comfort and gives us reason to unite and stand for what we believe in. We must confront the nature of truth to recognise our blind spots. Only then can we live with truths that reflect the goodness and potential of our humanity.