courses > 2009 spring

Elective Courses

CINE 300 - Community Media

ARTH 301 | AFRC 303
401 | T 1:30-4:30pm

The availability of low cost digital video cameras and editing equipment has led to an international expansion of independent media produced by non-professionals including members of community organizations who wish to use media to explore local issues of importance. The documentary form in particular allows the videomaker to articulate not only visual and aural information, but also complex ideas. Through community produced documentaries, groups have found a new creative tool to define their own issues, talk with other community audiences and analyze issues of importance. These works are shown at neighborhood based screenings, on public access television, and increasingly on video websites and cell phones. This seminar is a survey on the forms and approaches to community media. In the US, community media has been generated by media arts centers, like Appalshop serving the Appalachian community from Whitesburg, Kentucky; Third World News Reel in New York; the Esperanza Center in San Antonio, Texas; and Scribe Video Center here in Philadelphia; by public access cable centers nationally that have field production capabilities, and through collaborations between independent producers and community groups (e.g.. Vicki Funari working in Tijuana; Alex Rodriquez working in Duchess County, New York; Charlene Gilbert working in Washington, DC.) Internationally, particularly in Latin America, NGOs have played an important role in supporting community media projects as parts of social justice campaigns. Community Media has become a way for cultural workers to engage and strengthen traditionally disenfranchised communities. The process of community members documenting their own lives, issues and environments often creates new dynamics within a community, strengthens relationships and allows for conversations that allow members to develop an analysis of problems and a sense of agency in addressing them. When media is independent, with the author having a communal relationship with subject, there is the possibility for perspectives that are seldom possible with corporate or government produced media. Over the course of the semester we will look broadly at a range of community media projects, produced in a variety of regions around the United States, as well as examples of community media form Latin America, Africa, South Asia and minority communities within Europe. Concurrently, the class will undertake a research project to create an inventory of innovative forms of community media, analyzing how particular forms and practices develop within particular cultural settings.