Category Archives: education

Group 4!

Asking your friends for money is inevitably awkward, especially if they are cash-strapped college kids like ourselves. But our experience with crowdfunding has shown that it is much more than simply pestering acquaintances for donations (although we’ve done our fair share of that, too). It is about effectively sharing a story that people can rally behind – a story that inspires people to care, and inspires people to act. That concept was at the heart of every unit covered in COM 408: Media, Art and Social Activism this semester. As the semester wraps up (seriously where did the time go?), our class still has one important goal to achieve: Raise funds to finance Yasini “Yacn” Biggo’s tuition, so he can graduate from The University of Dar Es Salaam, become a successful lawyer, and protect women and children from Tanzania who are isolated in society. Because this is a hefty task, our professor divided the class into teams based on our strengths and interests.

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The Creatives (Group Three): An Aesthetic Journey

During the initial research stages, the three of us set out to learn more about Tanzania in order to gain an insight into Yasini’s background and experience. We knew that Yasini’s motivation for earning his degree is to help vulnerable women and children in Tanzania, he explained that these demographics are often denied basic rights such as the right to own property or to work. We also found out that many women throughout Tanzanian communities are still accused of which-craft. Belief in witchcraft is still strong throughout many Tanzanian societies, it is estimated as many as a thousand Tanzanian women are targeted and killed annually.

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Group 2: Writing for Crowdfunding

Kasey and I seem to have a mutual affection for writing. The composition of language was something that seems to be a challenge we both enjoy. However we did not anticipate the difficulty we would have when writing for a crowdfunding campaign.

Kasey as well as myself had never been faced with the task of writing to garner donations. We had previously written about causes, and we had both previously had experience writing persuasively, but this assignment required a much different approach and skill set. Continue reading

Pasta Nera: when Italy had nothing left to give but love, pasta and polenta.

PastaNera_Foto_22How does an entire country manage to forget over 100,000 of its children were put on trains and sent away from home? How can a country so critical of itself forget one of its kindest deeds ever? How can it be that one of its most organised and successful campaigns of social activism be relegated to the archives instead of championed as an exemplary example of what even the most poverty stricken citizens can achieve? While Pasta Nera does not try to answer these questions of why, it brings to light this wonderful story of great human generosity in a time of immense need, of the coming together of north and south in a postwar Italy reduced to rubble, and of the power of women at a time when they had very little money and even fewer rights. Continue reading

Blackfish Writes Sea World’s Obituary

Blakfish_quad_Web_400_300_85Blackfish since its release has drawn an immense amount of attention, thanks in large part, to its popularity amongst celebrities and inexorable social media presence. Blackfish follow the life of Tillikum, an orca that was involved with the death of three of his trainers, a consequence of his captivity. The documentary does a masterful job of detailing the dangers and inhumanity of whales in captivity–from their capture to their monotonous existence of being imprisoned in a pool. The whole narrative is set at an alarming pace, marked by a stark sense of doom and danger–the documentary reads more as a terrifying thriller movie. It is in equal parts entertaining, disturbing, and profoundly moving–in a word perfect documentary filmmaking.

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An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth changed the way the world looks at global worming.

The controversial Al Gore film was made in 2006 and immediately delivered an impact. The film examines the science of global warming along with examinging the history of Al Gore’s lifelong commitment to reverse it. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way through a documentary style of film. A movie critic had the following to say about the film: “Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message”.
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The Pursuit of Happiness


The-Culture-High-2014-movie-posterWhen I began the search for the perfect documentary, I thought the film The Culture High, created just last year in 2014 with $240,022 funded on Kickstarter, was just another film about why marijuana should be legalized, but it proved to be so much more. Incarcerations, “Wars based on concepts,” militarization of police, prohibitions of all kinds, the race for more, the discovery of the motives behind the government, and money are just a few topics explained within The Culture High. Combining the use of animations and interviews with celebrities like Snoop Dogg, and Wiz Khalifia, we also see very interesting and impactful interviews with medical professionals; former secret agents from various federal organizations; patients of diseases; former drug smugglers; experts on mental health and behavior; and even a few Neuropsychopharmacologists, we get a new view on the “War on Drugs” originally forged by Richard Nixon, through portrayals of very real proof of an ignorant nature displayed through very real video evidence. Continue reading

“Yellow Fever” by Ng’endo Mukii

yellow fever

The Kenyan, mixed-media documentary animation “Yellow Fever” explores colorism and self-image among African girls and women. It was made by the award winning, Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii who’s portfolio spans advertising campaigns, children’s TV series, documentary animation and experimental films! She frequently uses storytelling and creative, highly-textured animation to make compelling films.

“Yellow Fever” served as Mukii’s thesis project at London’s Royal College of Art. The film has garnered a long list of accolades including Best Animation at the 7th Kenya International Film Festival in 2012, Best Animation in This Is England Film Festival (France), the Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short at the 49th Chicago International Film Festival (USA), and Best Short Film at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (Nigeria), all in 2013.

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Week 8 (Homework)

FilmsForActionBlog Post: Due: Thurs. April 2, 2015.
Choose a socially conscious film. (A great resource for finding free films to watch online is Films for Action.) It can be a film short or feature length/ documentary or fiction, etc.

Make a blog post that addresses the following:
1. Write a short summary of the film
2. Briefly analyze how it was made, techniques used, etc.
3. What was its budget? How was it funded?
4. How was it distributed? Which venues? Does the film have a website, etc?
5. In your opinion, what kind of impact did the film have?

*PS. Don’t forget that your Volunteer Assignment Action Plan as a result of your interview is due at the start of class, Tues. March 31, 2015.

The Cost of Education

debt As we grow from a young age, we’re constantly told that college is a MUST. The force to attend college comes from all sources; parents, mentors, teachers, relatives, television, social media, and even the looming facts that no one without a college degree gets a high paying and mentally stimulating job. Ultimately, no degree equals no future. For as long as I can remember I was told I going to go to college, I was even going to become an Astronaut, “but not without your degree,” my grandfather would remind me. Getting accepted into University of Maryland-College Park was a dream come true. I’ll never forget opening my email, seeing the words (or word), “Congratulations,” and screaming my head off for about 20 minutes.

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