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Notes on Blindness

Producers Mike Brett, Jo-Jo Ellison, Steve Jamison, Peter Middleton, James Spinney, Alex Usborne


In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and academic John Hull became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary on audio-cassette. Over three years he recorded in excess of sixteen hours of material — a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal, which excavates the interior world of blindness.

Notes on Blindness is based on the same source material as the 12-minute Emmy Award-winning New York Times Op-Doc, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival before going on to win a string of international awards and critical acclaim.

It is the debut feature from Writer-Directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney, whose work explores new approaches in the documentary form.

With a dialogue track consisting of documentary audio elements gathered from John’s diaries, interviews with him and his wife Marilyn, and intimate family recordings from the 1980s, the film exudes emotional authenticity and dramatic immediacy.

Embedding this documentary audio within cinematic interpretations and textured sound design (from acclaimed Supervising Sound Editor Joakim Sundström), the filmmakers take the viewer on an illuminating and deeply personal journey deep into what John calls ‘a world beyond sight.’

About The Team

Peter Middleton and James Spinney (Writer, Directors) have co-directed award-winning fiction and documentaries, most notably a series of films based upon the audio diaries of John Hull, documenting his experience of blindness. These include Rainfall, winner of the Best Short Documentary Award at Hot Docs 2013, and the Emmy Award-winning Notes on Blindness, commissioned by the New York Times, which premiered at Sundance 2014.

Mike Brett and Steve Jamison (Producers) are co-founders and managing partners of award-winning independent production company, Archer’s Mark. The pair’s debut feature Next Goal Wins won the Moët British Independent Film Award for Best Documentary in 2014, earning them recognition as two of BAFTA’s 2014 Breakthrough Brits and as Screen International Future Leaders for 2015.

Jo-Jo Ellison (Producer) produced the Emmy Award-winning New York Times Op-Doc Notes on Blindness, upon which the 2016 feature film is based. She has worked tirelessly at Archer’s Mark to see the film through from its development phase into physical production in the summer of 2015.

Alex Usborne (Producer) runs 104 Films — the world leaders in disability cinema. The company has produced six feature films (including Special People, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and I Am Breathing), over 60 short films and runs a raft of training and development programs for disabled film talent.

Joakim Sundström (Producer) Swedish-born Joakim Sundström has worked regularly with acclaimed directors including Michael Winterbottom and Kevin Macdonald. He also collaborated with Fernando Meirelles on his Oscar-winning film The Constant Gardener (2005). In 2013 he won the BAFTA for Best Technical Achievement for Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and his work has received nominations from the MPSA’s Golden Reel, the Moët British Independent Film Awards, and the International Press Academy’s Golden Satellite.

Notes on Blindness is a Cinereach grantee.