Participatory Film in Action

Free film screening and Q&A with two accomplished filmmakers in the expanding field of participatory documentary.

In Sari Stories, Sue Sudbury collaborates with a group of young women in rural India who have been trained to make videos, allowing the viewer an unprecedented view of life in many Indian villages – a world of child marriage, child labour and domestic abuse. An uplifting and at times humorous film, it tells the story of how these women are using technology to challenge tradition and transform their lives.

Lathe in Sari Stories

Lisa Fingleton has over twenty years experience working in a creative and collaborative way with community groups. Outside I’m Singing is a year long project with Ireland’s only lesbian choir, and documents the process of creating a musical with an incredible group of women and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome to sing out and proud. Memory through Media takes us through bogs and milking parlours as people of the ‘third age’ make their first films.

Outside I'm Singing (2008), Lisa Fingleton small

Event curated by Digital Media lecturer and filmmaker Suzanne Cohen

Booking essential:
2nd May, 18.30 – 20.00
Room GC1-08, Graduate Centre (The Daniel Libeskind Space), London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB


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Shooting a documentary inside a prison

It took over four months to secure the access. This involved writing proposals outlining my intentions, meetings with managers and security checks. I was making the film for my MA at Royal Holloway University, which allowed me to present the project as having educational aims. In the end the prison agreed on the basis that I would run free animation workshops for the women.

The access was for one to two days per week over a three-month period. I was not going to be given an officer to look after me, so would have to stay with Leah at all times – she even had to lock me in when I went to the toilet for my own safety. Every time I entered the building I was searched and my fingerprints were scanned. This often took up to an hour.

An excerpt from my article about making ‘Beautiful Sentence’, gaining access to the prison and working with the prisoners. Read more at the Documentary Filmmakers Group website.

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A group poem written at the Israel/Palestine Study Day, BKY

His fear is the colour

of crushed bluestone

Her fear pulses through her,

imprinted by a mother’s desperation

His fear of insignificance

makes him state defiantly,

‘Respect me! Listen to me!

I am not a worm!’

Her fear keeps her silent,

her throat locked by love –

or the fear of losing it

His fear of Arab hatred of his Jewishness

comes from a common fear of malice,

which the Arabs in turn fear

from well-armed Israelis.

By Bob, Ian, John, Leah, Suzanne

Israel/Palestine Study Day, BKY, August 2011
Written in a workshop facilitated by Leah Thorn

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‘Beautiful Sentence’ screening at the House of Commons

‘Beautiful Sentence’ is a documentary about inspirational poet Leah Thorn and her work with female prisoners. Excerpts from the film will be screened at two separate events at the House of Commons aimed at decision makers, focusing on prison reform and rehabilitation in June and July 2011.

I filmed Leah’s workshops and one to one sessions with prisoners inside HMP Bronzefield, Middlesex (UK) during her two years as writer in residence. The film depicts powerful interactions with the women as they strive to find a voice through creative writing.

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Hello documentary darlings!

This is a blog about community filmmaking and new developments in documentary by Suzanne Cohen, filmmaker and lecturer in at London Metropolitan University.

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