Previous Events


120 at JP Forum Premiere of Owning our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film

The JP Forum premiere of Owning our Future: Haitian Perspectives in Film was a great success with a packed house of 120 in attendance.

It was particularly exciting to have with us from Haiti, trainee, filmmaker and journalist, Robenson Sanon. Robenson really appreciated the audience’s interest in Haiti and thoughtful questions. This video contains an excerpt from his statement:

I was delighted that the relevance of the training was so clearly articulated by Robeson and in trainee Steeve Colin’s thank you note that I read at the end of the presentation. As Steeve writes:

[The training] gives people like me the chance to change the narrative about my community … And that is a power that I don’t take for granted … So thank you for the knowledge, thank you for the training, and thank you for trusting me with my community’s story.

Many thanks to JP Forum for hosting the event and to Tracy Bindel and Hero Ashman, from the Institute of Policy Research, for coordinating the evening. Hero wrote this insightful blog on the films and presentation:

JP Forum

Jamaica Plain Forum Haitian Perspectives in Film

By Hero Ashman

The US premier of Haitian Perspectives In Film took place at this week’s Jamaica Plain Forum. Six short documentaries made by six newly trained Haitian filmmakers were screened to an audience of more than 100 people. The screening was led by a local organization called Community Supported Film, which had run a five week intensive training course in Haiti in 2014 for Haitian storytellers. The aim of the project was to counteract the singular narrative of Haiti as a country permanently damaged by the 2010 earthquake, and to lift up local voices as they share their important stories. What struck me most about the movies was the capacity and creativity evident in the Haitians’ work – both those making the documentaries and those starring in them.

The dominant portrayal of people within disaster or war torn nations, especially those recovering from wars and natural disasters, is that they are in constant need of outside help. While it is important for an international community to offer help and assistance to countries in need, by purporting a narrative of foreigners coming in to help ‘re-build’, ‘re-construct’ and ‘re-develop’ we ignore the work that is already being done by Haitians, in Haiti, for other Haitians.

Steve Colin talk

One documentary, created by Bichara Villason, filmed a group of construction workers re-building houses for people whose homes had been damaged by the quake. The project manager explained the communal process of identifying who to build for, constructing permanent (rather than temporary) houses and taking the steps to ensure people’s homes were protected by law. The title of this piece was “Owned or Occupied.” The ownership the community had over their work was contrasted with the work done by occupying NGOs: arriving from abroad, building temporary shelter and leaving. This type of work is not covered by mainstream media outside of Haiti because it doesn’t fit with the narrative of helplessness that accompanies many post-earthquake news reports.

For me, the documentaries clearly captured the connection between work and identity. This was demonstrated in the documentary “Threading the Needle”, which told the story of a woman who had started a curtain making business in order to provide for her family. Her work not only brought her a livelihood, but also the ability to reach out to other women in her community by teaching them sewing and business skills. The documentary successfully conveyed the feeling spoken by the woman, that hard work was needed and willingly given to get the country back on its feet. The importance of work was established for individual, community and national identity.

The documentaries were successful in expanding many stories we have of the world: the story of disaster relief, the story of community resilience, the story of who gets to tell the story.  They illustrated brilliantly that there is a huge diversity of work that people do. A community organizer, who was interviewed in the documentary “Ghetto Clean, Ghetto Green,” related the work him and his community were doing to improve life for children in his neighborhood with the Haitian system of Kombit. Kombit refers to a system of collective work undertaken to achieve a common goal; it is based on sharing rather than selling. It is clear that the work done by the Haitian filmmakers and the Haitians in the documentaries was not done merely to earn a living. The work they did utilized their energy, created change and brought them a livelihood based on more than having shelter and food, but included shaping and upholding a community identity.

I think it would benefit us all to remember that work within the home, volunteer work in communities, work with purposes other than profit, is not only crucial to our economy but it is constructive of the creative, generous and productive people we are. The documentaries really brought this point home to me.

You can pre-order the DVD of Haitian Perspectives In Film at CSFilm’s website and explore the site for more information on the films.


US Premiere of Haitian Perspectives in Film! Screening and discussion – April 7th, Boston

Haitian-made documentary films go beyond the earthquake devastation and relief efforts to provide unseen local perspectives on the capacity of Haitians and the challenges they face

When: Tuesday April 7th, 2015, 7-9pm

Where: Jamaica Plain Forum
First Church, 6 Eliot Street, Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA Directions and Parking Info


In a climate where mainstream American media typically reports international news from an American perspective with a focus on disaster and crisis, can local stories help us to better understand foreign events, diverse cultures and people’s complex realities?

We think they can. The 10 brand new Haitian-made documentary films do just that. We invite you to join us at their Boston premiere to watch and discuss a selection of them! The event will be held at the Jamaica Plain Forum on Tuesday April 7th at 7pm. Admission is free.

The collection of ten remarkable short films, Haitian Perspectives in Film, was produced by Haitian men and women who participated in an intensive 5-week training conducted by CSFilm in 2014.

CSFilm founder and director Michael Sheridan will present a selection of these films and will discuss how stories told by Haitians themselves can augment our understanding of Haiti’s post-earthquake relief efforts and provide a chance for us to experience Haiti as it is lived by Haitian street vendors, business women, artists, and farmers.

Going beyond disaster reporting, these films will ensure the experiences and points of view of Haitians are included in the international conversation about what has and has not happened since the 7.0 earthquake 5 years ago. The films will also be used to increase dialogue and influence public policy internationally and in Haiti regarding effective foreign aid and sustainable development.


Visit our Facebook event page for more information!


Selections from “The Fruit of Our Labor” will air on the TV show, WORLDDOCS

Selections from “The Fruit of Our Labor” will air on the TV show, WORLDDOCS, broadcast on Fairfax Public Access (cable channel 10  in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford counties and the towns of Falls Church, Leesburg, and Fredericksburg in Virginia) on Monday, Feb. 2nd at 10 AM, Thursday, Feb. 5th at 1 AM, and Sunday, Feb. 8th at 8:30 PM. Thank you for allowing us to show it.


WORLDDOCS airs on Fairfax Public Access (cable channel 10) in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania counties in Virginia on

Mondays at 10:00 AM, Thursdays at 1:00 AM, and Sundays at 8:30 PM; on Montgomery Community Television (cable channel 19) in Montgomery and Prince

Georges counties in Maryland on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM and Thursdays at 11:00 PM (live-streamed at; and on DCTV (Comcast channels 95 & 96/RCN channels 10 & 11) in Washington, DC at various times (live-streamed at


Michael Sheridan to present The Messenger is the Message at Oxfam America

Michael Sheridan, Filmmaker and Educator to Present:

The Messenger is the Message: The impact of local perspective storytelling on education, advocacy and effective development

Oxfam America – Presentation, Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:00-1:30pm

Michael Sheridan, director of Community Supported Film and former co-founder of Oxfam’s Documentary Production Unit, will speak about his work to put Afghans, Haitians and Indonesians in charge of the storytelling about their community’s economic and social development issues.

Michael went to Afghanistan in 2009 to make a documentary on effective development from the perspective of Afghan villagers. To match the message to the method, he trained Afghan women and men in lived-reality documentary filmmaking. The intensive 5-week training resulted in a compilation of ten short films that provide a unique view of Afghans’ daily efforts to address their challenging social and economic conditions.

As Robin Young, host of NPR’s Here and Now, reported, “Michael put cameras in the hands of Afghans and gave them training to make films about their lives. The result is an unprecedented intimate look at Afghan life with exchanges no outsider has been privy to before.” From Michael’s work in Afghanistan, he developed Community Supported Film an organization dedicated to strengthening documentary storytelling from the local perspective.

Michael will talk about the process, show a selection of the films made by the Afghan trainees and talk about CSFilm’s upcoming projects in Haiti and Boston. You can learn more about the films and the work at



Check Out Michael Sheridan on TEDx! – Why Local Perspectives are Necessary for a Balanced Information Diet

Conn College Logo“We all have to demand an improvement in our news diet. A balanced diet that’s less self-centric, that includes more local perspectives, will really help us be better informed, and therefore, more effective citizens.”    

On April 13, Michael Sheridan, an alumnus of Connecticut College, spoke at this year’s TEDxConnecticutCollege conference about Community Supported Film’s experience bringing local perspectives from Afghanistan to the U.S. through documentary filmmaking. Michael’s talk, entitled “Transforming News and Views through Local Perspectives,” compares U.S. mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan with local Afghan stories to show the unbalanced state of the Western news diet. By highlighting this imbalance, Michael demonstrates a need for both perspectives in order to create sustainable solutions for ourselves and for Afghans. Watch Michael’s TEDx talk here and/or read the highlights below:

It becomes clear that news stories have the capacity to both help and harm people once you ask who is telling the story, why they are telling it, and how it influences the general public. In the case of mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan, which focuses on “war-centric” stories and stories that are most relatable to Americans, the Afghan perspective is lost, subsequently harming the Afghan people.

In his talk, Michael compares photos and videos from The New York Times and Frontline with videos produced through Community Supported Film’s trainings in Afghanistan to show the way in which the mainstream media’s perception of Afghan issues does not accurately reflect the daily problems that the Afghan people are facing. Instead of focusing on warfare and violence, the locally produced videos emphasize issues with water, illiteracy, and drug addiction. Michael states that more Afghans are killed by water issues than insurgents and that 87% of Afghans believe that men and women should have equal access to education. Those are shocking statistics for those who only see Afghans in Western media portrayed as violent and discriminatory towards women.

TEDx: On the Shoulders of Giants

“American reporters…and the American news industry [in general] are telling the story of our news in Afghanistan and not necessarily the news from Afghanistan.”

Through his TEDx talk, Michael Sheridan proves that telling the news from Afghanistan can only be accomplished through a balanced information diet of both mainstream and local perspectives, thereby highlighting the importance of the Community Supported Film mission.


TEDx events are locally organized gatherings held in the same format as the well-known TED talks. These events bring leading thinkers and doers together to share what they are most passionate about.

The theme of this year’s Connecticut College TEDx event was “On the Shoulders of Giants,” which highlighted the power of collaboration and the insights gained from a historical perspective.

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