HONIGMANN AND SOUND
Lami Zhang is a second-year Journalism and Political Science major with a Film Studies minor. She is from Shanghai, China. She co-hosts a film podcast called Subtitled and is the fundraising chair for NU Women Filmmakers Alliance. She enjoys photography, watching documentaries, and making coffee.
This podcast examines how Peruvian-born Dutch documentarian Heddy Honigmann utilizes sound,
especially music and silence, in her documentaries to develop themes of memory, empathy, and
self-acceptance, and to build upon Proust’s notions of involuntary memory and instant of eternity.
I took a class called Women and Documentary last winter quarter and discovered the films of Heddy
Honigmann. I was immediately struck by how different her documentaries are from other
filmmakers of her era. She tackles difficult and sensitive topics such as political corruption, PTSD,
and aging with such grace, kindness, and humility. Her films bring you inside the worlds of the
people she interviews without a voyeuristic quality that many other documentaries possess. I was
especially interested in how she utilizes silence during her filming process, whether it is staying
silent after asking a question to allow others to speak or allowing her subjects to think in silence for
as long as they need. I wanted to create an auditory multi-media piece to examine specific auditory
elements and scenes in her films.
Much of the research about documentaries I came across is written research. As documentaries are
very visual and aural, I think that there should be more multimedia research to better convey
elements in documentaries that are harder to translate into writing. Because this project focuses on
one particular documentarian, more indepth research can be done on other female documentarians,
especially regarding how gender intersects with stories these filmmakers are trying to tell and how it
impacts different aspects of their filming processes.
I’m planning to attend graduate school for Political Science.