Many hands in media

Documentaries>> Charpashe Films by Children A project of Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata

By Kavita Das Gupta
Published: Thursday 30 April 2009

What is waste for someone is survival for another. This is the theme behind a short one-minute film made by a young school student of Kolkata when she looked charpashe or around. The Films by Children project aims to encourage children from Germany and India to take a closer look at their immediate environment and share their experiences interactively through films. Students from schools of Kolkata and Hamburg were selected and trained to make these films. We have 38 films here.

Such projects are commendable. They not only help young minds relate to their everyday lives creatively and express themselves publicly, but also putting cameras in the hands of non-professionals intensifies the movement to democratize media.

The digital revolution has made it possible for anybody to access and control technology today. Most cell phones have cameras and it is easy to shoot something and upload it on the net and share it with the rest of the world in just a few hours. However, what has worried me about this trend is a growing irreverence, leading to a common-sensical approach towards making media.

Everybody is a filmmaker today. Is it enough to hold the camera in your hand, look through the view finder, press the record button and wave it around like a flag? Hey presto a film is made!

Sadly, I noticed this even in the films that the young people of Charpashe have made. I can see some very interesting and innovative thoughts, which are squirming to come out and express themselves. I can see the compassion in these young minds and also a satirical look at themselves.

But the lack of effective training and a common-sensical approach to filmmaking has stunted their visual expression. Their ideas have got trapped in the clichd images of Kolkata's poverty, hunger and rags--I am sure that was not their intention.

Critiques apart, projects such as Charpashe should be supported because they perform the very important task of creating many hands in media, inspiring responsible citizens' journalism.

Kavita Das Gupta is a community media practitioner in Ahmedabad

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