Monday, July 10, 2017

TED'S DIGITAL JUNGLE #12: CONVERGENCE CULTURE

Good news! My new doctoral supervisor, Professor Lars-Gustaf Andersson of the Film Studies Department at Sweden's University of Lund, has given me a green light for my dissertation on
Digital Documentary. I completed a first draft three years ago, but then ran into problems with my
previous supervisor when he suddenly wanted me to change subjects - after I had already written and rewritten 100 + pages over two years. Needless to say, I began to have doubts about that collaboration, but with the help of the Lund University Ombudsman for doctoral candidates, I managed to get a new supervisor after more than  a year of negotiations.

The delay was beneficial in more ways than one. One of the glaring weaknesses of my first draft was the lack of a strong thesis based on contemporary media theory, I knew I wanted to explore how digital technology has democratized documentary around the world, transforming it from a centralized medium for manufacturing consent into  a de-centralized medium for grassroots explorations of personal reality, but I had no idea how to get there. My media gurus, Soviet documentarian Dziga Vertov and Canadian media philosopher Marshall McLuhan, are considered out-of-date by 21 st century post-moderns.

Then my friend and current boss Professor Bill Mooney, Chair of the Department of Film,Media Studies and Performing Arts, turned me on to Henry Jenkins and his theory of Convergence Culture. Some have called Jenkins " a 21st century McLuhan ", and I am happy to say that his work seems to be the missing link I have been looking for in my efforts to make some sense of our current digital jungle.

Stay tuned!:)

Sunday, February 05, 2017

TED'S DIGITAL JUNGLE#11: CONGO: A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

In 2007, I received an offer from the United Nations Mission to the Democratic Republic in the Congo (MONUC) to become Chief of their Video Unit. I immediately accepted, and found a very talented international staff of 10, equipped with the latest Sony HD cameras and several state-of-art editing suites. The job was a dream come true, and I found the Congo a fascinating and very complex subject.

Over the next 5 years, we produced over 200 weekly video magazines with a Congolese cast shown on all major domestic television networks, with  Congolese television journalist Horeb Bulambo as our main attraction.  It seems only natural now that we should be working together again with members of the MONUC Video Unit team, with Horeb as the director of CONGO: A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

One of the buzzwords in developmental planning circles in the past decade has been capacity building; this means passing on technological skills to developing countries so they can become self-reliant and independent.  In the world of communications media, as noted previously, the cost of using analog film, audio and television technology has been a major stumbling block.  Now, thanks to digital technology, this stumbling block has disappeared – a development I witnessed first hand in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where I saw the phenomenon of Radio Okapi, which is easily the most successful example of developmental communications capacity building in the world.

The result of a joint effort by the United Nations and the Swiss foundation Fondation Hirondelle, Radio Okapi was created in 2002 to provide a reliable source of national information in a country devastated by war. Today,  with a staff of C. 200 reporting from around the DRC, Radio Okapi reaches over 50% of the population, and is the most popular and trusted radio station in the country; personally, I would have liked to emulate the Okapi capacity building model in digital video production, but this activity lay outside our mission mandate, and probably would have been blocked by our partners in the Congolese government, who already had periodic conflicts with Radio Okapi reporting on sensitive issues. Freedom of expression comes at a price in the DRC; three different Radio Okapi journalists have been murdered under very suspicious circumstances.

During my five years as Chief of the Video Unit, I was blessed with a superb team, and the star performers are my current partners – Director Horeb Bulambo, Cinematographer Albert Liesegang,  Cinematographer/Editor Alan Brain and Editor/Graphic Designer Meriton Ahmeti. Together, we made a decision to look for good stories and to produce them in our own cinema verite style; we  hated standard UN “ Voice of God” narration, and wanted to let our subjects tell their own stories whenever possible.

While we come from different backgrounds, the five of us share a dedication to the art and craft of cinema, and we are forever seeking to push the creative envelope to find new horizons to explore. Unfortunately, with its obsession with the printed word, the UN has never been able to understand visual media, with sadly predictable results.

Indeed, since 1976, I have had something of a love-hate relationship with the organization, and have left several times after creative disputes, vowing to never return. In 2000, for example, fed up with what I considered a cover up of massive Indonesian human rights violations in Timor Leste, I left UNTAET to make my own independent documentary feature about East Timor. The result, produced on a shoestring budget, EAST TIMOR: BETRAYAL AND RESURRECTION, was technically rough, but it won the prestigious UN Correspondents’ Association’s Ricardo Ortega Award for Excellence in Electronic Journalism in 2004. This film also was extremely popular with the East Timorese, who are now producing a Portuguese version for distribution to the Lusaphonic countries of the world. ( For this film, please see: https://youtu.be/j_s46-5R4OE )

In Congo, my dream has been to pick up where that documentary left off, and to produce a feature documentary showing both the existential challenges confronting UN Peacekeepers in the field, and the hopes and dreams of the people of the host nation from their perspective. CONGO:A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? is the realization of that dream.

Our  Sample Demo on Human Rights, which is  Part 4 in CONGO: THE AFRICAN SPRING  offers a good illustration of our cinematic style and approach. While we are telling the story of the late Fernando Castanon on one level, we have several narrative threads unfolding simultaneously to give a feeling of the unending wave of human rights violations that required investigation – with most of these cases  never being brought to a satisfactory conclusion. ( For the link to our Human Rights Sample Demo, please click here: https://vimeo.com/154673345    (password: Dzigavertov )

Our talented Director Horeb Bulambo, now on location in Congo, will deliver a  personal and poetic introduction  to each chapter from Congo. Our editor Meriton Ahmeti is a highly skilled graphic designer with a full arsenal of fonts and animated techniques, as well as a talented composer. Along with using original Congolese music, Meriton will be creating a score for CONGO: A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

We are looking forward to producing a feature documentary that will be aesthetically bold, dynamic and as emotionally gripping and powerful as  Congo itself.  We were there four years longer than Josef Conrad, so we have a creative obligation to provide a contemporary update on his century-old vision.

For The Samba Project, LLC demo reel, please click on this link:
https://vimeo.com/140320502  (no password needed!)

                              

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

UN Academic Impact March Newsletter

FPCD Supports the UN Academic Impact.


By Supporting the UN ACADEMIC IMPACT the FPCD agrees to the following:

1. A commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter as values that education seeks to promote and help fulfil;
2. A commitment to human rights, among them freedom of inquiry, opinion, and speech;
3. A commitment to educational opportunity for all people regardless of gender, race, religion or ethnicity;
4. A commitment to the opportunity for every interested individual to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the pursuit of higher education;
5. A commitment to building capacity in higher education systems across the world;
6. A commitment to encouraging global citizenship through education;
7. A commitment to advancing peace and conflict resolution through education;
8. A commitment to addressing issues of poverty through education;
9. A commitment to promoting sustainability through education;
10. A commitment to promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the “unlearning” of intolerance, through education.


Read the UN Academic Impact March Newsletter here:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

TALK BUSINESS 360 Interview with The Foundation for Post Conflict Develo...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

TALK BUSINESS 360 Interview with The Foundation for Post Conflict Develo...


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Press Release: Mary David Recognized by Diplomatic Courier


MEDIA ADVISORY
September 10, 2013
Washington, DC
 
Diplomatic Courier and YPFP Recognize Mary David on “99 Under 33”

 
WASHINGTON, DC:  The Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy are pleased to announce that Mary David, Director of Public Relations, Foundation for Post Conflict Development, has been recognized on the 2013 “99 Under 33,” an international list noting the most influential foreign policy leaders under the age of 33. The complete list is available at: www.diplomaticourier.com/99Under33.

 
The 99 Under 33 recognizes the distinctive impact each of the honorees has on his or her community today and their promise of potential as a leader in the future. This list uniquely offers insight into the creativity, determination, and passion of the diverse young people who are already tackling the world's critical global challenges. By design, this list is broad and diverse, which reflects the belief that foreign policy in the 21st century is made by leaders from all sectors.
 
“Mary David is a remarkable champion on all aspects of human trafficking. She is an asset to our Foundation and to our global society” said Claudia Abate-Debat, Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Post Conflict Development.

 “Mary David has made it her mission to aid the poor and disadvantaged in areas recovering from conflict. As a Shaper, Mary has altered the public conversation on collateral damage and encouraged the world to remember the people swept into war,” highlights Ana C. Rold, Editor-in-Chief, Diplomatic Courier.

 The “99 Under 33” recognizes seven leadership archetypes that define the list:

·        A Catalyst is from a field not typically associated with foreign policy who has had an impact on international affairs.

·        A Convener brings people together in creative ways to address a pressing international issue or enhance the foreign policy community.

·        An Influencer mobilizes people in the foreign policy community with bold new ideas.

·        An Innovator designs a new solution to a critical global challenge.

·        A Practitioner changes foreign policy from the inside through extraordinary professionalism and skill.

·        A Risk-taker takes a chance and sees it pay off.

·        A Shaper changes the public discourse on an aspect of foreign policy or raises awareness on a critical issue.


Follow the 99 on twitter: #99Under33. With questions or to interview Mary David or Mrs. Rold, please contact Press Officer Kathryn Floyd at press@diplomaticourier.org.

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About Us: The Foundation for Post Conflict Development is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization that strives to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals in Post Conflict areas.Our landmark project is the Prince Rainier III Maternity Clinic in Timor-Leste. The FPCD website is www.postconflictdev.org

About Us: The Diplomatic Courier is the global affairs magazine that connects the diplomatic and policy establishment to the next generation of leaders in diplomacy and foreign policy. The Diplomatic Courier publishes six print issues per year, as well as weekly online at www.diplomaticourier.com and a daily blog, On Point. The Diplomatic Courier is an independent publication both in its voice and its organization. Publishing opinions from all political spectrums, the Courier adheres to the ideals of freedom of expression, individualism, and fair and balanced journalism.
 
 
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Monday, September 09, 2013

PEACEJAM, Nobel Laureates, Youth and YOU

 
FPCD Supports PEACEJAM
 
Nobel Laureates
Youth
and YOU
 
Watch this informative Tedx Talk by PEACEJAM Founders
Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff
 
and learn how to get involved in the
1 Billion Acts of Peace Campaign