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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

First Person: International Digital Storytelling Conference - Karen Tunny


'We need to organise, build capacity, direct governments, hold them accountable for our values, hopes, dreams for coming generations. Artists need to recognise the value of each citizen's voice and the power of art for transformation. In times of ungoverned global commerce artists and cultural workers have a special role to play.'
John O'Neal, co-founder 'Free Southern Theatre',
civil rights activist, keynote presenter.

And so began the second international digital storytelling festival, 'First Person' at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne.

Digital storytelling is now practised in many ways in many locations all around the world. A good explanation of the practise can be found on the Center for Digital Storytelling, Berkeley website and also on the ACMI website. Essentially digital stories are short, personal, often developed in a workshop situation and draw on personal archives (photographs, audio tapes, video, letters or other material that can be scanned). It is also a grassroots movement strongly grounded in social justice principles.

Brisbane was very well represented at the Conference with seven QCAN members in attendance as well as a contingent from QUT (Qld University of Technology).

'First Person' had three thematic areas:
  • Broadcast convergence: new forms of storytelling
  • Storytelling and the digital generation
  • Democratisation and the documentation of voice
Exciting work is happening: in Wales Kate Strudwick is coordinating the Breaking Barriers digital storytelling project, specialising in working with difficult to reach groups and helping to give a voice to communities whose voices are rarely heard, in South Africa staff and volunteers from Engender Health and MAP (Men as Partners), are developing stories which will be used for advocacy and training relating to the issues of HIV/Aids and violence agains women and in Sao Paulo, the Museu da Pessoa (Museum of the Person) aims to provide each and every individual with an opportunity to integrate his or her history into a network of social memory.

Ana Serrano from Habitat new media lab (Canadian Film Centre) in the 'New forms of narrative and relationship to audience' session spoke about an archival audio project 'murmur' http://murmurtoronto.ca/ Murmur allows Torontonians to share stories about particular locations in order to keep city stories alive.

David Withers from ACMI spoke in a session entitled 'Working in Communities: the practicalities'. An outline of ACMI's community projects can be found on their site. Several communities are developing Digital Stories with ACMI through the Vic Health funded project Telling Stories: Building Communities.

Another rich session was 'Storytelling and Local Identity'. Speakers included Malcolm McKinnon (artist and film maker working in rural communities), Christine Peacock (Principal member of Uniikup Productions, Torres Strait Islander and Qld Community Arts Network Committee member and Kim Montgomery (ACMI Content Development Manager responsible for MAP - Memory and Place project).

A full copy of this report is available to QCAN members upon request. Please contact Karen Tunny, Information and Publications Manager mail@qldcan.org.au or phone 07 3254 4922.

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