Voces de Cambio Visual Storytelling Project

Welcome to the project blog for Voces de Cambio's Young Women's Network. Based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, this blog documents a documentary video workshop held in the summer of 2011. For 8 weeks 15 members of our program learned to use video as a means to tell stories, creating their first short films in the process.

At the end of July we screened our films to a packed house, and rave reviews. We now have the Spanish versions ready for viewing, with the subtitled versions coming shortly.

Check them out...

Vida Verda
by Brenda Zapeta, Yenifer López &
Nicolasa García
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

La Importancia De Ser Bonita
by Claudia González &
Madelín Figueroa
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

¿Limpia o Sucia?
Tu Decides

by Cindy Marroquin, Felisa Alvares &
Ana Karen de León
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

La Juvented
De Antes y La Actual

by Jocabed Ixcayán & Yasmin Reyes
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

Cementera
¿Desarollo o Destrucción?

by Belén Pac, Karla Soto &
Gladis Rosales
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

Tribus Urbanas
by Brenda López & Sheyla Marroquín
Watch in Spanish | Watch in English

If you have any questions or comments by all means drop us a line, we'd be happy to hear from you.

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20 posts tagged Video

And the last video we watched this week called Unha historia de redeiras y gruas about a community of women in A Coruña, Spain fighting the gentrification of their neighbourhood. I showed this video in particular because we need to start thinking about the credits for our videos, and I thought all those hands pulling down cranes might get the creative juices flowing.

The second video we watched this week, called 3 Mujeres Tres Sueños and keeping with a continued theme on migration, and women working to help support their families far from home.

This is the first video we watched this week, entitled Lágrimas de mujer (Tears of women) about the work of CONAVIGUA, and their work with widows from the civil war to uncover mass graves. Pretty unanimously everyone felt the footage itself was incredibly powerful, with amazing access to the subject matter, but that the voice-over and titles were a distraction.

And continuing on the theme of personal, and being excited to screen work, our last video of the week is called Álbum familiar. Our coordinator here in Guatemala, Claudia made this video when she took part in the NIC workshops, and it tells the story of her aunt who travelled to the United States, leaving a young family behind, and it tells the story through pictures of her time in the U.S., recordings her daughters made for her, and a long recorded interview that was made after she had returned to Guatemala.

Of all the videos we’ve screen this is by far my favourite. It’s simple, honest, and really smart. It was also really great to have Claudia be able to explain the process behind the video, and take questions from the girls. The footage at the end when the whole family is gathered together to welcome Claudia’s aunt home is about as close to a tearjerker as we’ve had!

I was quite excited to show this next video, Juanita, as I think it’s really powerful. It’s also different from everything we’ve watched to date in that it’s autobiographical - Juanita is both subject and filmmaker. It’s also a young women around the same age as some in our group making her first video. I personally feel, and everyone agreed, that she did an a remarkable job of telling her own story, and capturing moments (such as her father’s plea for forgiveness) that aren’t necessarily easy to get.

Something to definitely strive for within our own work.

We’ve been watching a lot of films (purposely) on Guatemala, so I felt like perhaps we should look a little further afield, though I still wanted to stick with some of the themes we’ve been looking at. Desafiando fronteras looks at migrants living in Madrid and what they go through from day-to-day living without papers.

Beyond the theme itself the way the video used music surfaced as something that the girls really appreciated, really trying to integrate the music into the video, choose something that comes out of the story rather than slapping any old song overtop of your footage.

For Chino y Pajaro, with respect.

And our final video for the week, a film about elders within the Maya community. Talking points for this video mostly focused on spending enough time with a subject for them to be able to tell their whole story and then capture footage that helps you illustrate what they’re talking about, and/or a sense of who they are, and where they live. In this case being able to include shots of the first woman lighting candles, and praying while she’s talking about her religious beliefs

The bit during the second interview when the ex-mayor is talking about dishing out the chicotazos (5:40) brought a few chuckles. ¡¡Mano dura!!

Second video shown this week, and a little better received. Everyone felt the video was a more focused effort, and appreciated how closely they worked with the street kids. At the end they felt that things got a little sloppy with microphones and extra cameras slipping into the shots, though the final scene when the singing carried over into shots of the street was a hit. We had a nice discussion afterward about carrying elements from one scene into another to create ties between the two.

Our first video of the week. Mixed reviews on this one except for the close ups on the hands, everyone seemed to agree that this was a nice detail to focus on, and that the way it was framed was interesting. Otherwise everyone felt that there wasn’t much of a story holding the video together.

Seems to be something amiss with the 480p version, make sure to click above to play in 360p.

This last Saturday, as Lucas mentioned, we watched The Vagina Monologues, a play written by Eve Ensler based a series of over 200 interviews she conducted with various women about their experiences as women and sexuality. My suggestion stems from the purpose of my time in Guatemala - to explore the experiences, view points, and cultural relevance of The Vagina Monologues with women and communities in Latin America. The play presents a variety of topics - personal acceptance and discovery, sexual violence, outside perceptions of female sexuality, etc. - many of which are quite taboo and not usual topics of conversation, especially in Guatemala. However, it is a way to open up and to consider your own role as a women in a different context, which fits right in the with goals of Voces.

It was wonderful to see the girls engaged and interested in the monologues, to plant seeds for further discussion and critique. Many of them asked for copies of the video even! The conversation after our viewing was a bit slow to start, but poco a poco people were more animated and coming with comments. Talking with Karla and Belén this week they showed a liking for the play and its ability to address more controversial or serious themes with a side of humor as well as discuss the positive and negative aspects of topics such as giving birth.

In addition to showing the monologues, I presented the girls with copies of various monologues other women and I wrote for a production called The Vagina Memoirs, an adaptation put on at my university. Karla, Brenda, J-Lo and others asked me for copies (I only printed a few at first) to have and read over. They expressed a lot of interest in both projects - The Vagina Monologues and The Vagina Memoirs.

Seeing such a positive reception is very encouraging and motivates me to return to do a workshop involving both the monologues and the memoirs!

The first video we watched this week - a short film called Memorias de una Tierra Arrasada, or in english, Memories from a Destroyed Land. 200,000+ people were killed during the civil war here, the vast majority of them Maya. Often whole villages were massacred by government troops, with the survivors fleeing to live in the mountains, sometimes for years.

I chose to screen this video because while not technically spotless it’s focussed squarely on the stories of survivors right where we find them, in their homes, villages, and fields. The lesson: our videos don’t need to be perfect, but it would be great if they could dig deep and really connect with the people we choose to interview.

Our second video of the week, El Tanque, or the Water Tank. Filmed here in Quetzaltenango, this ENORMOUS pila (washing basin) is a local landmark and everyone in the class felt this video did a great job of capturing the the long hours spent there by women doing their washing - not only how hard they work, but the stories that they share to pass the time and the closeness that this builds between them.

My favourite is the bit about highballs and champagne doing the body good.

And then just for fun we went riding with a girls longboard crew from Madrid. The idea here was to show scenes with lots of action, and how the right music can add an extra punch to an already dramatic scene. The use of selective focus, and natural light is quite nice, too.

This past Saturday we had the first meeting of our cine-club, where every other Saturday we screen a video, share some popcorn and have a short discussion after the film. We recently picked up a projector for the program, so this was also it’s inauguration. Both the projector and the film were a smashing success.

For our first film we watched Which Way Home directed by Rebecca Cammisa. The films looks at children from Central America and Mexico using freight trains to make their way to the United States, typically with the hope of reuniting with their parents. Which Way Home follows a group of four boys all in their early teens as they travel from Chiapas to Mexico City. After Mexico City the filmmakers lose contact with the boys, but later find that three had given up on the journey and had returned home, while the fourth, Kevin had made it to the U.S. but had been caught by U.S. Immigration and was living in a shelter awaiting deportation.

I chose this video because it’s shot very simply, very directly, and shows in great depth the trials these children are willing to endure to reunite with their parents, and/or to try and better the lives of the family they leave behind. It also shows quite well whats required of filmmakers to create something powerful - connecting with their subjects, staying with a story for as long as is needed, and also how careful editing can make strong material even stronger. Part of the film also takes place here in Quetzaltenango, so there was a touch of home-town pride.

Definitely worth a look and should be widely available, it was nominated for an Oscar last year. The film’s website also has lots of extra interviews and clips that aren’t in the film, and also worth spending some time with.

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