Synopsis

In the early 1980s, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and academic John Hull lost his sight. To help him make sense of the ensuing upheaval in his life, he began to keep an audio diary. Across three years, he created over 16 hours of material; these recordings would form a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal, excavating the interior world of blindness. Based on these original recordings and his published diaries ‘Touching the Rock’, Notes on Blindness recreates Hull’s fascinating and deeply moving experiences through an immersive hybrid of documentary, dramatic reconstruction and highly sensory cinematic techniques and sound design. Sensitive, poetic and thought-provoking, the film charts Hull’s journey through emotional turmoil and spiritual crisis to a renewed perception of the world and the discovery of ‘a world beyond sight’. Directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Notes on Blindness is an ambitious and groundbreaking work - both affecting and innovative - and one of the most essential British documentaries of the year.

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Director

Peter Middleton
James Spinney
From respective backgrounds studying Visual Art and English Literature, Peter and James have been working together for the past five years on a range of fiction, documentary and commercial projects. During this period, they have adapted John’s diary material into a series of award winning short films. The first of these, Rainfall, won the Best Short Documentary Award at Hot Docs 2013 and was nominated for the ICA Experimental Film Award. This was followed in 2014 by the Emmy Award-winning short, also entitled Notes on Blindness, which screened at Sundance Film Festival and won Best Documentary at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival. Notes on Blindness is their first feature.

Crew

Peter Middleton: Writer / director James Spinney: Writer/ director Joakim Sundström: Supervising Sound Editor

Details

Production year: 2015 An Archer’s Mark production, in association with Fee Fie Foe Films and 104 Films, and in co-production with Agat Films & Cie and ARTE France DVD catalogue number: ART800DVD DVD special features: Audio introduction  Enhanced soundtrack  Audio description by Stephen Mangan Audio description by Louise Fryer  Integrated hard-of-hearing subtitles

Awards

2017 BAFTA nominee for Outstanding British Film, Best Documentary and Outstanding Debut
2016 British Independent Film Awards winner for Best Documentary
Six-time 2016 British Independent Film Awards nominee, including Best British Independent Film and Best Director
2016 Evening Standard Film Awards nominee for Best Documentary

Out now on DVD & on demand

GENRE: Documentary

CERTIFICATE: U

DIRECTOR: Peter Middleton, James Spinney

CREW:
Peter Middleton: Writer / director
James Spinney: Writer/ director
Joakim Sundström: Supervising Sound Editor
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DURATION: 90 Mins

LANGUAGES: English

AWARDS:
2017 BAFTA nominee for Outstanding British Film, Best Documentary and Outstanding Debut
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Where to watch

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Poster

Reviews


  • “Who knew that a tale of blindness could be so visionary and so beautifully photographed on screen?”

    Kate Muir, The Times


  • “Superb... as educational, entertaining and inspirational as its subject”

    Mark Kermode, The Observer


  • “Miraculous”

    Charlie Phillips, The Guardian


  • “A seamless patchwork of reminiscences, tracing John’s voyage into darkness with an astute and sensitive cinematic imagination”

    Tim Robey, The Telegraph


  • “Affecting and profoundly intelligent”

    Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian


  • “Extraordinary... As well as insight into darkness, Notes on Blindness has a profound sense of the unbearable lightness of being”

    Tom Birchenough, The Arts Desk

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