Discussing Papuan Voices in Netherlands
KITLV or Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Carribean Studies held a seminar on EngageMedia's Papuan Voices: video and empowerment on 27 November 2015 in Leiden, Netherlands. The seminar attended by around 20 people who were mostly researchers and PhD students, screened 3 films from Papuan Voices collections of volume 1 and 2. Fridus Steijlen, a senior researcher of KITLV who hosted the seminar opened the seminar with a brief description about EngageMedia and its Papuan Voices project. The films showed were Love Letter to the Soldier, Wam-ena, and Pearl in the Noken.
Hendriati Trianita, former Program Manager of EngageMedia and Ligia Giai, a Papuan origin and Master student in Global History at Leiden University were discussants of the films. Trianita talked about the process of making the films, and Giai talked about how she was impressed by the “Pearl in the Noken” film because it shows a success story of Papuans.
The discussion afterward was lively as there were many questions and comments from participants. All participants agreed that the films were very good, have strong messages about everyday lives and the fact that they were made by Papuans themselves added the values. The discussion went around three main themes; the content and relevance of the films (and the project) to the people, video as a tool for empowerment and how these videos are used by the communities, and the process of the film. As for the content, the comments were that “Love Letter” contains strong political message but described in a very subtle way, while “Pearl” is very good as it does not show a 'victim' that most advocacy films do. “Wam-ena, which tells a story about the importance of pigs in the life cycle of Papuans can consider not only as 'cultural story' but it shows more complicated socio-economics values of people in Wamena (and other parts of Indonesia). One of participants asked how these videos can reach the people where the films were made, whether they happened to talk about the films and how was their reaction. Trianita, who was involved in the second phase of the Papuan Voices project said that the films were screened in villages and communities and got positive response and feedback. She also explained about the process of the production, from story development workshop, shooting, editing workshop and editing phase.
It was a fruitful discussion and most participants were impressed by the films. It is good that advocacy videos like Papuan Voices are engaged more with academics. One of the researcher said that the films are something that researchers have been thinking about: how to engage their knowledge of ethnography into something that can directly reach (and then empower) people. (Nita)
note: all Papuan Voices films and its study guide can be downloaded from Papuan Voices website.