Behind the (gender) lens: participatory film in Samoa
By Safua Akeli Amaama and Ramona Boodoosingh So many of us look at films, be them long or short, in the cinema or on YouTube, and for each, the story stimulates a response ranging from laughter to sadness or even anger. Beyond the obvious entertainment however, films can foster empathy, understanding and widen the viewer’s world view. Participatory research continues to use film as a medium through which sensitive narratives are shared and by talk back, stimulates dialogue with the audience about topics raised. Achievement of these objectives however, requires careful planning, implementation and monitoring. The 2018 Centre for Samoan Studies Film Challenge (Film Challenge) focused on gender issues and for the organisers and participants, provided many lessons on how to implement participatory research using film making, many of these lessons were gained through trial and error.
The idea of the Film Challenge emerged during a team meeting to prepare for the Samoan workshop which was a component of a larger project exploring the use of film to stimulate dialogue on gender issues in the Pacific. Samoa was one of the three countries where a workshop would be held (Fiji and Papua New Guinea being the other two) and in preparation for the workshop, the planning team thought “wouldn’t it be great to showcase Samoan film makers? Any ideas?” After a rather drawn out silence, we faced reality, there was a paltry availability of film content produced by Samoan filmmakers on the topic of gender. The reasons for this rather depressing realisation were lengthy and quick in coming, from lack of training opportunities to cost of equipment to difficulty in screening films to wider audiences.
So we contemplated strategies to address this need, and with two non-filmmakers at the lead, a proposal was drafted and peddled to local and regional agencies. The rejections came in decisively, some with …read more