Documentary filmmaker Samantha Grant has been fascinated by the “Blair Affair,” former New York Times reporter and serial plagiarist Jayson Blair’s downward spiral, since the scandal was uncovered approximately a decade ago.
Her documentary feature, “A Fragile Trust,” delves deeply into the shocking story and how the fallout rocked not just the Times but the world of journalism. Using first-person accounts, the film features how such a series of false articles could have gotten into print in the first place, the ethical repercussions, how the lives of those it touched were affected and the worldwide ripple effect of Mr. Blair’s blatant lies. The documentary broaches questions on the subjects of power, representation, race and accountability in the mainstream media.
The film, Ms. Grant’s first full-length feature, includes interviews with Mr. Blair, the New York Times’s former Executive Editor Howell Raines, media critic Howard Kurtz and a handful of those close to the story.
“The thing that’s special about this film is that it’s told entirely in the first person by the people who were there,” Ms. Grant said during a telephone interview on Friday, adding that the film is especially relevant now as plagiarism runs rampant in the days of bloggers and digital “copy-and-paste” online news coverage. “Despite the flaws, we need institutional journalism. We need it more than ever. I really hope people get that message.”
“A Fragile Trust” will make its North American premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Friday, October 11, at 3:45 p.m. at East Hampton UA. It will be screened again at the Sag Harbor Cinema on Saturday, October 12, at 1:30 p.m. To learn more, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.