Previous Events

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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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Michael Sheridan to present at NAMAC conference, Philadelphia

NAMAC – the National Association of Media Arts has kindly invited Community Supported Film to be on the panel, Rural, Regional, and Indigenous Media Projects, at its National Conference, August 6-8, in Philly.   Also on the panel are Ada Smith, Appalshop; Lora Taub-Pervizpour, HYPE Youth Media, and Sean McLaughlin, Access Humboldt!

If you’re in the area, or are still scheduling your summer holiday plans, come on down!

We would like to maximize the impact of our trip and therefore are looking for invitations to present our work at other venues, orgs, homes etc…  This could be in the Philly area or on route between Boston and Philly!  We’ll be headed that way on or before August 6 and returning on or after the 9th.   Find out more about organizing an event here.

We can present the films and work of our Afghan trainees and/or delve in to the subject of our Tedx talk – Transforming News and Views through Local Perspectives – why locally sourced reporting is essential for our healthy information diet.

Please let us know if you can host an event or can suggest others that we should be in touch with.

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Bringing it Back: Doc Bootcamp Course at MassArt

CSFilm Training AfghanistanMichael Sheridan will teach the Documentary Bootcamp course at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston again this summer!  The course is a one week intensive, June 2-6, 2014, covering  the full production experience in fast motion: project definition, project planning, camera, editing, and presentation.

The course is open to the public and to students  of all levels of experience.  To learn more please go to MassArt’s course page.

Students are welcome to use their own digital video camcorder during the course if it accepts an external microphone, allows for audio monitoring and has manual focus and exposure controls.

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Field Trip to the Carroll School

Eliz Thank You Card

Eliz Thank You Card (Click on images for larger view)

Last month, Michael made a special trip to the Carroll School in Lincoln, Massachusetts to discuss the work of CSFilm with an elementary school class.  The students are reading the Afghan book The Breadwinner, which takes place during the Taliban regime and was the impetus for inviting Michael to provide a more contemporary perspective.   Below are some of the thank you cards and drawings sent to Michael from the kids.

It was a completely new experience communicating with this age group. We don’t usually try and engage kids under High School age and even older students can be a reach without a specific focus on issues such as the role of the media in society, poverty reduction, governance or geography.

Lessons learned from elementary school students:

1. Be prepared to role with a nonlinear conversation and questions coming at you mid-thought and sentence – unless you lay down different rules and try and stick to them – as Dinan, their teacher, quickly implemented for Michael.

2. No matter how much you try and expand the conversation beyond “the war,” some boys at this age are only going to ask you about your experience of guns and bombs.

3.  Youth have remarkable memories and will latch on to everything you  say – even side comments – as can be seen in the inclusion of some repeated oddities in their comments and pictures, such as:

Tom Thank You Card

Tom’s Thank You Card (Click on the images for a larger view)

“I learned that Afghans drink Coke.”  I asked them what was unusual in one one  picture  I showed.  I was expecting them to note that the women were not wearing burkas and were dressed in western clothes.  A few of them instead rightly noted the Coke can on a table and expressed surprise that soda is available in Afghanistan.

Nelson Thank You CardIn a few of their comments they noticed that all the cars were Toyota Corollas, an amazing truth – almost all cars in Afghanistan are Corollas – an oddity that occurred since the return of cars post Taliban.  Hence a number of drawings with Toyota logos!

You’ll also notice that many got the theme of the presentation – that Afghanistan is much more than a war zone as commonly depicted in our media.

Violet Thank You Card

Violet’s Thank You Card

Natalie Thank You Card

Natalie’s Thank You Card

Eliz Inside of Thank You Card

Eliz’s Thank You Card

 

 

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Digital Communications Workshop with Michael Sheridan

Community Supported Filmmaking: From Afghanistan to Boston’s Immigrant Community, a Digital Communications Workshop with Michael Sheridan

Date: Friday, February 14th, 2014
Time: 2:10 – 4 pm
Location: RG 20, Rubenstein Building, Ground Floor, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Illustrating principles of video storytelling, filmmaker Michael Sheridan will present highlights of his work in Afghanistan and Indonesia training activists, journalists and storytellers to make their own documentary films. Against that background he will discuss his current project similarly to empower recent immigrants to Boston to tell their stories with video. Catherine Rielly will Harvard talkshare insights on how she uses DevCom films in her work with Rubia and immigrant groups in New Hampshire. Michael Sheridan, DevCom Mentor since 2001, Michael is an independent producer of film and video with a special interest in international issues of social and economic development in Africa and Asia. As a Fullbright Fellow, he spent a year in Indonesia teaching filmmaking, subsequently trained 10 Afghan filmmakers to make documentaries about issues in their communities. Michael is the founder of Community Supported Film: www.CSFilm.org.

Charles Mann, following his retirement from a career as a development economist with the Harvard Institute for International Development and The Rockefeller Foundation, founded the Development Communications Workshop, a collaboration with filmmakers to help students use video effectively for development and to produce documentaries about development issues. www.DevComWorkshop.org

Catherine Rielly, experienced development economist, teacher, DevCom Executive Producer, is the Executive Director of Rubia, a non-profit organization that promotes empowerment of Afghan women and immigrants in Manchester, New Hampshire: www.rubiahandwork.org See her TEDx talk, “Empowerment by Stealth: Sewing Confidence, Literacy and Unexpected Power” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evh7ke5lJPY

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