Documentary both reveals and hides stories

‘Documentaries always hide great stories’: this was the phrase that Mark Reid, Head of Education at the British Film Institute kept in his mind from my presentation in the Film Literacy day in La Ciotat, south of France a month ago. He added: “we usually think that documentaries tell stories, but you interestingly showed how many the hide…”.

A Melies studio photo decorated the programme.

A Melies studio photo decorated the programme.

In my presentation I deliberately deconstructed a short length documentary I did 3 years ago about a traveler child in the suburbs of Athens. The “truth” which was guiding me through my research and shooting period, was completely challenged and subverted a year after the film had finished. I had chosen the young girl as a character because she wanted to get out of the ghetto and had a wish to continue school. This girl, never made it: she gradually dropped out following the majority of her community. As it proved, two “directors” were not enough to help her not quit. Firstly, the school director, a unique teacher well known for her systematic efforts to bring and keep Roma kids in the school and second, me, a  film director who cared enough not only during shooting but also after. Truth as always, is bigger than documentaries.

The sister of my protagonist learning life in a muddy road.

The sister of my protagonist learning life in a muddy road.

The educational aspect

In a film literacy context, the presentation developed to show how the film itself gives us several chances to read it as a space for communication, information exchange, language development and form creation . Meaning that documentary can be very useful from a media education point of view, something rare, as, usually, fiction films are used for this purpose.

 

A 3-day workshop

Educational Radiotelevision (EduTV) organised the MEDEAnet workshop “Developing documentaries in schools” on 5-7 April 2013 in Athens, Greece and invited me to be the lead speaker. The workshop was dedicated at Primary and Secondary level teachers who already have a prior experience in video production, basic knowledge in ICT, and Web 2.0 tools.

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Preparing draft ideas

 

Frame and meanings

Frame and meanings

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Hands on and fun

As a film director and media educator, my aim was to focus on methodologies related to documentary, exploring how various tools and resources can be used to enhance creativity in schools and finally understanding how documentary can be a multi-modal, effective, informative and expressive medium. During the 3-day workshop the 24 participants learned how to refine their shooting and editing techniques, to enhance their creative techniques, and focus on methodologies and educational content that could make teaching exciting and attractive to young people.

Documentary training

On edutv_logo5-7 April 2013, I shall be running an intense training, aimed at primary and secondary level teachers who already have a prior experience in video production, invited by the Educational Radiotelevision , EduTV (Ministry of Education) and the MEDEAnet Programme. This 4th workshop of the programme is focussing on developing documentaries in schools. The workshop will take place in Athens, Greece, will involve a lot of hands on experience, a teleconference with teachers form other countries and its outcomes will be presented via EduTV.

Students making documentaries about themselves

This is an article included in The Videomuseum Publication, a book gathering all presentations given at a media seminar for teachers at the Goethe Institute, Athens, 5 May 2012.I rewrote my presentation which deals especially with the outcomes of a 2 year project, helping youth groups make short documentary movies at school. Our project, “The videomuseums” involves teacher training and support from filmmakers also trained in media education.

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