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April 28, 2008

WATCH ONLINE: Walker Youth Showcase


So much catching up to do...

First a shout out to all the *new* babies:

Clancy's HENRY!
Sonny's SONNY BLAZE! [who isn't that new, but I'm just lagging]
and so many more on the way (not me, but my 1/2 PR/J girl from out west)...

and in baby news of the filmic kind: much love, respect and well wishes to NATHAN. He's (finally, after YEARS of hard work and dedication) is shooting his first feature as we "speak". And, he's shooting on the RED camera. I wish I was in Cali right now!! (besides the fact that it's 90 there, and brick here w/snow flurries this a.m.). But, for real, I can't wait to see this film!

Second, apologies to all those who kept checking my blog to find nothing. No excuses, just lots of work and distractions (it's hard work to be a wife and mother of 2).

I have also been trying to spend more time doing things that fill my soul. My husband said that I seemed to be going down a dark, boring, lonely, and isolated academic road that was way too movie-less. So.... thankfully... the MSP International Film Festival arrived just in time!

I went to see:

PUBLIC ENEMY: Welcome to the Terrordome

It was a trip to go back in time. The most powerful thing about this film (besides PE itself), was the old footage. PE recreating Abbey Road, fighting in the airport, shows with many (primarily white) hands waving in the air. [why is it mostly white kids that check for PE?). The doc could have used more interview footage (I got tired of the intercutting between talking heads [of the same dudes: Henry Rollins, dude from Rage, Beasties, etc] and the same performance footage. The film could benefit from more footage (I wonder if Def Jam owns most of the old archival stuff?), and another tighter edit. Wish I could have directed (and/or edited) this doc. Definitely will go in my archive when it's out on DVD.

THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon)

This documentary by my FAVORITE DP in the world Ellen Kuras. This film was 23 years in the making (that's dedication!), and was the first Kuras directed (with the film's subject Thavisouk Phrasavath). Ellen was supposed to be at the screening but she was in CT shooting Sam Mendes' new film = ( But, Thavi was in the audience. He deservedly got a standing ovation when he surprised us with his presence. He led a powerful q&a; I was inspired to go edit. He and Kuras met 23 years ago when he worked as a translator on a film she was shooting about a Laotian family. That family dropped out of the film, but Kuras asked Thavi his story, and the rest is history (literally) shown in this documentary.

How can I find that kind of dedication. 23 years!! [Not that I want to work that long on one film.]



The film is "directed" by Melody Gilbert (Urban Explorers, A Life Without Pain, and Whole). I put directed in air quotes because the doc is actually a collaborative project by Carleton students in a year-long documentary class. Melody was their teacher.

They did a q&a following the screening, and Twin Cities filmmaker Melody gave the space for the students to speak. Then why, I wonder, does she take sole directorial credit for this work? It's troubling.

This is a real concern to me. How can the project reflect an absolute collaboration of the teacher and students, but only the teacher gets directorial credit. I should have raised my hand.

The film was really funny and got my daughter thinking. Mom, she said this morning. I don't think I could go without my computer. And I KNOW, that you wouldn't be able to either!

Full Disclosure: I will be teaching digital storytelling in the cinema and media studies dept (CAMS) at Carleton, spring of 2009. I'm excited! Carleton students, as I've been told are hard-working, dedicated, and passionate. This is apparent in both the video, and in the stories they told post-screening (working through winter and spring breaks to finish the film!).

I've also been watching lots of DVDs:
Juno (aiight; not really worthy of all the hype)
Martian Child [i love john cusack!]
and many others...

I'm going to try to post daily (at least weekly) from now on.. it can be like my "morning pages". (see THE ARTIST'S WAY).

April 11, 2008

New Fall 2008 Course!

Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color
AFRO 3910 Topics in African American and African Studies, Section 002
GWSS 3390 Topics: Visual, Cultural, and Literary Studies, Section 001
Co-taught by Professor Walt Jacobs and Rachel Raimist

Course Description:
Storytelling is a tool for preserving memory, writing history, learning, entertaining, organizing, and healing in communities of color. It is in the telling of stories that communities build identities, construct meaning, and make connections with others and the world. In this course, we will investigate modes and power dimensions of digital storytelling, analyze the role of digitized media as a method of individual healing, and examine media as tools for community organizing and development. We will explore media making, creative writing, and memoir in both literary and digital writing, and examine the gendered, racialized, and classed dimensions of digital storytelling. We will create projects to tell our stories, examine our social ghosts, and work with community members as part of the 40th Anniversary of the African American and African Studies Department to develop digital stories about Twin Cities communities of color. Students will learn to produce creative work (writing, video, photography, sound and artwork) and gain technical proficiency in Mac-based editing. Students will produce photographic and video work that will be shared on the course blog. No technical expertise is necessary!

In this course, students will:
• Gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical issues of digital media-based storytelling in communities of color
• Analyze the ethical and moral dimensions inherent in representing the lives of others; discuss gendered, colonial, and ethnographic gazes
• Consider the impact of digital tools, methodology, and content of digital stories on individuals, community, and social justice movements
• Gain a firm grounding in basic digital media production tools; develop skills with tools of technology (hardware and software)
• Understand the concepts and methodologies of media making, visual literacy, photographic composition, and principles of video editing
• Demonstrate creativity, analytical thinking, and technical skill in digital storytelling

Main learning activities:
• In class screenings, hands-on lab workshops, and discussions
• Short response posts on course blog
• Short analytical response papers
• Creative exercises in digital photography, video, and storytelling
• Final paper/creative project

Selected Course Texts:
Capturing Lives, Creating Communities (Joe Lambert)
Ghostbox: A Memoir (Walter R. Jacobs), and selections from various texts: Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions (Michelle Citron), Reframings: New American Feminist Photography, If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory and Social Activism (a project by Martha Rosler, edited by Brian Wallis), and the Digital Storytelling Cookbook.
We will also examine various websites: Third World Majority, SilenceSpeaks, Capture Wales, Photobus, and others.

Here are some examples of digital stories:

"Decolonizing Black Women's Bodies Desired/Desiring Ourselves"

by Mireille Miller-Young, PhD, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Made as part of her course "Black Feminist Multimedia", this short video is about the problematics of desiring ourselves, once, as women of color our bodies have already been colonized. How can we decolonize our bodies and still engage them in the pursuit of self-authored desire, pleasure, and representation?

"Pieces (Bling Bling) / Freetown v. Cash Money"

words by Kahlil Amustafa, edited by Eli Jacobs- Fantauzzi

April 3, 2008

Test Drive: TRACKS video

Tish Jones performs "Tracks" live at the Walker Youth Poetry/Video Showcase. Link on it's way.

For now, here's the video projected behind her w/scratch track for sound:

You gotta love Tish Jones, she rocks!

+ + +

The show was beautiful. I'm exhausted (video making is hard and exhausting work! [esp between teaching so many classes, a husband and babies... blah blah blah... the videos are done!] The show was cool. The performers rocked it. Bamuthi's show will bless us (I'll b there opening night), and Eli is in the TC, and life is good.

April 2, 2008

"Pink Ladies" TEST DRIVE