Week 2: Scott Anderson

One of the videos I watched on the EngageMedia site was a behind-the-scenes look at the 2013 Santri Film Festival. The gist of the video was that teens in Indonesian boarding schools made documentary films to not only bring people together, but to shore up some fallacies about their topic. One topic was about a boarding school attended by boys who learned about God. Their documentary tackled the perception of the general public around them that these students were essentially terrorists. Taking on a topic like trying to prove you’re not X, Y or Z is an incredibly difficult task because of the deeply-engrained way of thinking about particular subjects.

I also thought the documentary was interesting because the filmmakers themselves said they learned quite a bit in the process. A few of them mentioned that before taking on this type of project, they were selfish and they really only looked out for themselves. They said that by working on this documentary, they not only had new experiences (a group of female teenagers making a documentary about religious differences were pretty nervous about walking into a church for the first time because they didn’t know what to expect after spending their entire lives attending a mosque), but they also learned about teamwork and how to listen to people with different opinions, which instantly reminded me of the Susan Phillips reading from last week.

One of the questions I had about these documentaries centers around access and how it changes the perception of those who watch it. These documentaries might be great, but in this section of the world, how accessible are they to those the documentary-makers target? It would seem impossible to change the perceptions of the target audience if they don’t have access to the documentaries.

Conversely, I was also keenly interested in the playlist of videos from the Witness site on YouTube that featured videos on journalists who were under threat across the globe. Are these journalists the other side of the coin when it comes to the teen documentary-makers? The teen documentary-makers have a clear agenda with their documentary while the journalists, who are either being injured or being killed by their perceived enemies, are supposed to be bias-free in their reporting. Yet, it’s the people who are supposed to be unbiased in what they report who are the targets of violence. Doesn’t that seem odd? Maybe it’s because the journalists have a wider target audience than the documentary-makers. This reminded me of all of those stories I’ve seen where journalists in Mexico are routinely killed after they report on the drug cartels.

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