Development Cooperation Handbook/The Vrinda project Documentary
The Vrinda project Documentary
The video resources linked to this handbook are also being waved together to produce a documentary that can be broadcast independently on the television channels. The video footage collected in "The Vrinda Project" and integrated in the online Development Cooperation Handbook on the Wiki has also been edited to produce an 8-episode documentary meant for television broadcasting. Even if the documentary uses the same video resources that are available in the Handbook, it is altogether a different creation that is meant for the public. It is an effort to bring the development cooperation themes closer to the public. The dialogic approach used in the documentary enables an easier understanding of global human development issues. The fact that it has been narrated by a team of experts from different cultural contexts where all opinions are represented makes this documentary a product that is beyond specific national and cultural delimitation. By framing the whole documentary into a single adventure story, it has been possible to present the MDG thematic in a live and joyful manner. The documentary is a celebration of a cooperating world, of civilizations in dialogue, of evolving traditions in transformation, countries in cooperation. As such , it stands against the certain tendencies of global media to prioritise conflicts, fears and mistrust among peoples.
We have woven the story as we jump (with flash-forwards and flash-backs) from what we call the "front-stage scenes" that narrate the projects stories and the "backstage scenes", i.e. the recording of the TVP team at work and the dialogues among team members. The "front-stage scenes" narrate what the team has seen. The backstage scenes reveal the "interpretations" and the work done for integrating the diverse viewpoints collected on the ground. Besides giving a plot to the various independent stories and opinions of experts, putting "us" in the story removes the typical journalist pretentiousness of being "objective"; and since the team members belong to different cultural contexts, their dialogue enables the articulation of different cultural viewpoints. So, the viewers from different parts of the world will find that they are not only the "observed ones" but also "the observers". And enables us to broadcast, without major editorial changes, the same product in the different countries which have been partners of the global effort to achieve the MDGs.
The Vrinda project Documentary
It's the story of a travel. From Europe, we went to Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and South America, to cover projects of international cooperation.
From the original topic assigned to us, the MDG programme, we went on to search why mainstream media finds it so difficult to cover activities of peacebuilding.
We collected stories on the work in progress for reducing extreme poverty, promoting basic education, empowering women, reducing the child mortality, improving maternal health, fighting against epidemics, protecting the environment, and promoting fair relationship amongst nations.
We shared these stories on the Internet but we wanted them to be broadcast on television. So, we interviewed policy makers and we shared with them the story of our effort to narrate how different people are rediscovering their own values by learning to appreciate the values of others.
It was a difficult journey. We had to overcome media stereotypes of “bad news is news that sells”. We had to bring on board editors that are usually keen on aligning with established prejudices among public, because they sell audiences to advertisers, not awareness to audiences.
In this journey, what we really learned was that development cannot be "given" in the same way that education cannot be “delivered” and participation cannot be “bought”. We learned that development is a process that requires communication and cooperation; that this is possible only as far as counterparts act in a reciprocally empowering manner, because they recognize that, in order to fully realize themselves, they need the self-realization of the others.
Now, we would like to share this journey with you; because this is where we wanted to arrive when we started it.
The work is in progress and we have been uploading on Youtube the first cuts and the draft episodes. ⇒ episodes. Thanks to the feedback from the network of contributors, we have received new ideas for improving the episodes and we have now customized the documentary for specific target audiences.
In the editorial process of the documentary, we have been proceeding along three different editorial structures:
- The main editorial line has been moving along the 8 MDGs In the 8 episodes, we included the "stories" pertaining to the specific Millennium Goal. ⇒ The stories related to the specific MDGs
- Along with the 8 MDGs subdivision we included for each episode one of the development issues into which we organized the arguments brought forward by the testimonials ⇒ The development Cooperation Issues. This in order to create a dynamic interaction between the specific projects, that are implemented "at the grass-roots level", and the general debate, taking place among international institutions and the global media.
- The third editorial line instead proceeds along ⇒ the story of our project as it unfolds and as team encounters project challenges.
The MDGs are a political step towards the Global Agenda for Development; an Agenda with a much wider scope; an Agenda that is the "vocation" of our times; a non-hierarchical action network where different peoples and institutions integrate their efforts in the service of knowledge, in the reduction of conflicts and in care for this World in which we live together.
The purpose of the Documentary is:
1 - MDG 1 - Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2 - MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education
3 - MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
4 - MDG 4 Reduce child mortality
5 - MDG 5: Improve maternal health
6 - MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7 - MDG 7 - Ensure environmental sustainability
8 - MDG 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Where we've been
Why the television? Wasn't Internet the best distributor of the project media?
The interactivity of Internet enables a personalized way of moving through the video resources and the viewer can chose her/his own itinerary through the video playlists and decide what to see first. On the other side the interactivity of Internet, left to itself without a unifying thread, let the viewer to be as alone as a client in a supermarket, who has to choose between the different items, but is not in a process of "dialogue" with the producers, nor in a process of community with the other "clients". Rather then a "clearing house" we wanted a "village feast", where one can find a sense of unity of purpose and a shared identity. So before and after the interactivity we felt the need to create a unitary "story" of the whole event. That story has been threaded in a narration and had been articulated in the "episodes of the documentary". But it could also take the form of a "book" or a "film". In any case something that has a thread that leads the story and gives unity to the various experiences. Including the experience of exploiting the interactivity and the ubiquity of the Internet.
The other reason why television was conceived as a strategic media in spite of its being already, in many senses, an "old medium", is that bringing the product on to the TV screens was the challenge of exposing to the general public what our group of author wanted to communicate. It is like bringing to the public theater of an innovative cultural and political message, that was initially framed in alternative circles, but that would have made not much an impact if confined only within a closed group of alternative thinkers unable - or unwilling - to give testimony of themselves to the wider community.
After we assembled a draft version ⇒ Episodes edited for a television distribution we created on a Google+ community specifically dedicated to distribution, and we started building the partnerships for distribution and broadcast of the edited episodes. Which we continued to edit as the story of the documentary moved on in overcoming the distribution challenges . And because the feedback from distributors gave us, along with the feedback of the users of this Wikibook, new ideas for improving the editions or for customize them for specific target audiences.