Thursday, August 03, 2017


Am now immersing myself in Henry Jenkins, and am happy to report that he practises what he preaches - lots of great material on YouTube!. Here is a link to a master class he gave in Mumbai
in 2014 in which he explains some of the basic principles of Convergence Culture:

What I like about Jenkins is that he is open, rather than dogmatic or messianic, and he encourages discussion and exchanges.  For me personally,  he has provided a welcome breath of fresh air for my dissertation, which now has the title:


I am working on the first case study now, and the subject will be The MONUSCO Video Unit which I ran from 2007-2012. This will give me an opportunity to describe UN Strategic Communications efforts  using  Jenkins' terminology for Convergence Culture, as well as make an assessment of the challenges confronting these efforts in the Age of Convergence Culture.

This all is beginning to make some sense now  - thank you, Professor Jenkins!!!


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Saturday, July 22, 2017


Have been reading Henry Jenkins on Convergence Culture for the past few weeks, and feel like a kid in a long-lost candy store. As a documentary producer, I have been experiencing exciting developments during the first three decades of the digital revolution, but I have been unable to find a theoretical framework to make some sense of what is happening in my field. Now, thanks to Henry Jenkins, I have found an intriguing framework in what he calls CONVERGENCE CULTURE.

For me, Jenkins' major discovery is that the key feature of The Digital Revolution is not the Content, but all the new Delivery Systems. As a producer, I had been preoccupied with the possibilties of
Digital Production - and had overlooked the impact of the new delivery systems. Now that I have been back in the US for almost three years, I am beginning to understand the importance of the new delivery systems - I am teaching an entire generation which consumes all visual media in small formats like I-Pads and Mobile phones, and which rarely ever goes to a movie theatre. ( of course, now that I have access to a fabulous digital cinema at SUNY/FIT for my film courses, I have the honor of introducing classic films to my students the way they were intended to be shown!)

The original title for my dissertation was DIGITAL DOCUMENTARY: THE REVOLUTION THAT IS NOT BEING TELEVISED. After reading Henry Jenkins, I now have a  new working title: DIGITAL DOCUMENTARY: STUDIES IN CONVERGENCE CULTURE.

The subjects of the first three studies will be:

1. MONUC/MONUSCO VIDEO UNIT :  The Video Unit of the UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which I ran from 2007-2012, Needless to say, I have a lot of material, including my own MISSION END REPORT and the YouTube channel I created: 

2.DEMOCRACY NOW: Amy Goodman's news program on YouTube, and my personal favorite.

3.MANREPELLER: One of the leading fashion blogs in New York, MANREPELLER is leading the charge to democratize haute couture.

My Thesis Statement for Case Study #1:


Stay tuned!!

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Monday, July 10, 2017


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


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: )

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:    (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:  (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...