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Notes on Blindness


NOTES ON BLINDNESS is a feature film and multi-platform interactive project based on the audio diaries of writer and academic John Hull, who – after decades of steady deterioration – became totally blind in 1983.

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. Neurologist Oliver Sacks described John’s account as ‘the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece.’

Based on the Emmy Award-winning short film of the same name, NOTES ON BLINDNESS is the debut feature from Writer-Directors Peter Middleton & James Spinney, whose work explores new approaches in the documentary form.

Embedding original documentary elements 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.'


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The Filmmakers

Peter Middleton & James Spinney Directors

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.

Mike Brett & Steve Jamison Producers

Mike Brett & Steve Jamison are co-founders and managing directors 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

Jo-Jo Ellison produced the Emmy Award-winning New York Times Op-Doc NOTES ON BLINDNESS, on which the feature film is based. She is also coordinating an ambitious outreach and engagement campaign, supported by the Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund, which aims to fulfill John Hull’s wish to ‘overcome the abyss which divides blind people from sighted people’.


Alex Usbourne Producer

Alex Usborne 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.


Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival


Official Selection

San Francisco Film Festival


Winner - Special Jury Prize

Sheffield Doc/Fest


Winner - Storytelling and Innovation Award

British Independent Film Awards


Winner - Best Documentary

Rotterdam Int’l Film Festival


Official Selection

BAFTA Awards


Nominee - Best Documentary


Elegant, evocative and deeply affecting.”

-Screen Daily

Extraordinary eloquence, precision and poetic sensitivity...“Notes on Blindness” subtly evokes sightlessness with its many scenes with shadowy palette, figures in silhouette and brief interludes in which the screen goes dark. The strategy brings out the dazzling beauty of moments shot in brilliant color.”

-Critics' Pick, The New York Times

★★★★★ A visionary, lyrical film.”

-The Times of London

★★★★★ Miraculous”

-The Guardian