Thursday April 17th, 2014

McClatchy Foreign Correspondent and State of the Craft

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 April 2014 — McClatchy Newspapers foreign correspondent Hannah Allam addresses my Foreign Correspondence class. Allam is the foreign affairs correspondent for McClatchy, covering the State Department and international diplomacy from Washington. She was bureau chief in Baghdad from 2003-2006 and was Middle East bureau chief, based in Cairo, from 2006-20012. Her war coverage has won several national awards; she was part of teams that won an Overseas Press Club Hal Boyle Award for Iraq coverage and a 2013 George Polk Award for coverage of the Syrian conflict. She was a 2008 Nieman fellow at Harvard. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1999. My students and I were deeply impressed by her professionalism, her sincerity and her humanity.

(Photo by Zach C. Cohen.)

 

Wednesday April 16th, 2014

“Through Their Eyes” at Toronto Film Festival

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 April 2014 — My wife, Esther, and I are pleased to announce that our documentary, “Through Their Eyes,” has been nominated to compete in the Documentary Feature category at the Toronto International Film and Video Awards festival. The documentary follows a diverse group of six American University students discovering the forbidden island of Cuba during the twilight years of the Castro government. In search of answers regarding race, religion and revolution, they spend four months criss-crossing the communist country — under an economic blockade by the United States since the administration of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. “Through Their Eyes” reveals not only the secrets of Cuba but, perhaps more importantly, the transformation of six young Americans on their journey of discovery.

Sunday February 16th, 2014

Reporting “Lone Survivor” Trailer

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 February 2014 — In the summer of 2005 a four-man team of US Navy SEALs dispatched to a mountainous region of northern Afghanistan in search of a renowned Taliban leader. Surrounded by enemy fighters, the SEALs called for backup. But when 16 Special Forces soldiers arrived on the scene in a Chinook helicopter, the Taliban shot it down, killing all 16 men aboard in what was the largest single loss of American life in the history of that war.

Of the four SEALs on the ground, three were killed in the fighting and only Marcus Luttrell survived. In his book, “Lone Survivor,” Luttrell recounts the events of that fateful day.

The “Lone Survivor” story has been recounted by Luttrell in his best-selling book, on a segment of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” and in countless television and personal appearances. And Mark Wahlberg plays the role of Luttrell in an action-packed Hollywood film nominated for two Oscars.

But only now can you see the actual story as it unfolds in real time through the eyes of the men and women who covered the story in Afghanistan.

In “Reporting ‘Lone Survivor,’” I document on the ground how the international press corps based in Kabul scrambled to follow the days-long drama as the world awaited information about the men’s fate.

To see the trailer for the upcoming film, click HERE.

Saturday January 4th, 2014

Video Journalism in the Shadow of War

KABUL, Afghanistan, 3 January 2014 — Afghan kids play soccer in the shadow of the wreckage of a military truck in this nation’s capital.

I’m here filming a documentary about a team of female Afghan university students competing in an international arbitration contest to be held in Hong Kong later this year. The competition is called the “Vis Moot.”

The Vis Moot is named after the late Willem Cornelis Vis, Executive Secretary of the Vienna Diplomatic Conference that created the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). A mock judicial proceeding set up to examine a hypothetical case as an academic exercise, the moot is organized on an annual basis in Vienna by Pace University.

A few years ago, a sister moot, Vis (East), was instituted to encourage greater participation from Asian teams; this moot is hosted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both moots follow the same format, and use the same moot problem, but in all other respects they are separate competitions.

Both contests aim to promote the study and practice of international commercial arbitration. The moot problem that contestants must address is normally based on a business dispute; and the teams are expected to present their arguments before a panel of arbitrators and under the rules of one of the major arbitral institutions, like the International Chambers of Commerce or the London Court of International Arbitration.

The documentary is being produced in conjunction with American University.

 

 

Wednesday August 21st, 2013

God and Gangs in Guatemala Now on YouTube

WASHINGTON, DC, 21 August 2013 — I’ve posted the three films on God and gangs in Guatemala on YouTube. You can find them here:

I. The Gangs

II. The Researcher

III. The Pastor

I hope you enjoy them.

Bill Gentile

 

Saturday August 17th, 2013

Released: Third of Three Films on Guatemala Gangs and Religion

WASHINGTON, DC, 17 August 2013 — This is the third of three short films I made on gangs and religion in Guatemala. Using the methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism,” I documented Robert Brenneman as he conducted follow-up research to his book, “Homies + Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America.”

This third film takes a look at how one Guatemalan pastor offers young men and women a safe space out of the gangs that have rocked this Central American nation. To watch “The Pastor” on Vimeo, click HERE.

Brenneman is an assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. His trip to Guatemala was sponsored by American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS.) To read more about the Center’s work, click HERE.

(Photo by Bill Gentile.)

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

Friday August 16th, 2013

Released: 2nd of Three Films on Guatemala Gangs and Religion

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 August 2013 — This is the second of three short films I made on gangs and religion in Guatemala. Using the methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism,” I documented Robert Brenneman as he conducted follow-up research to his book, “Homies + Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America.”

The second film takes a look at how Brenneman conducts his research on the gangs that have rocked this Central American nation, and how the church confronts that violence. To watch “The Researcher” on Vimeo, click HERE.

Brenneman is an assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. His trip to Guatemala was sponsored by American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS.) To read more about the Center’s work, click HERE.

(Photo by Bill Gentile.)

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

Thursday August 15th, 2013

Released: First of Three Films on Guatemala Gangs and Religion

WASHINGTON, DC, 15 August 2013 — This is the first of three short films I made on gangs and religion in Guatemala. Using the methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism,” I documented Robert Brenneman as he conducted follow-up research to his book, “Homies + Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America.”

The first film is an overview of the gang-related violence that has wracked this Central American nation. To watch “The Gangs” on Vimeo, click HERE.

Brenneman is an assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. His trip to Guatemala was sponsored by American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS.) To read more about the Center’s work, click HERE.

Bill Gentile

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

Tuesday August 13th, 2013

U.S.-Russia Media Summit Ends With Cuba Films

 

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, 2 August 2013 — This is the last round of talks at the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media. I had the privilege to be invited to the event, which took place in this city, rich in history and culture.

It was on this day that I presented on “citizen journalism,” one component of what we refer to as “backpack video journalism.” I defined backpack video journalism, in its purest form, as such:

Backpack video journalism is the craft of one properly trained practitioner using a hand-held digital video camera to tell character-driven stories in a more immediate, more intimate fashion than is achievable using a conventional, shoulder-held camera and a team that includes camera person, sound person, correspondent and producer. It intends to impact public opinion by participating in the dialogue that we call journalism. Because of changes in the technology used to create journalism, changes in methods of content delivery to the audience, and economic pressures to streamline news-gathering costs, video journalism has arrived as an alternative process for creating documentary-style narrative journalism.

Though Russian media employ video, its use does not seem to have permeated the culture as much as it has in the United States. Perhaps this is a function of the fact that the Russian culture is so steeped in literature.

For my presentation, I pulled some statistics from YouTube to impress on the attendants the ubiquitous nature of video in American, and other, cultures. Check out these numbers, which I read to the delegation:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 56 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day, and the number of people subscribing has more than doubled since last year.

To drive home the points I made during the presentation, I screened two pieces made by Cuban students during one of my video journalism workshops in Havana, during fall semester 2011. You can see the videos here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XHlUE0Qq5A

and here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRqQJXYnD58

These two films cut straight to the heart of why we filmmakers do what we do. We do it because of an insatiable need to communicate. To connect. To Create. To share. To have an impact. And video is increasingly the medium with which citizens of the world choose to do so.

Because of the deep historical, economic and political ties between the former Soviet Union and Cuba, I feel the films resonated deeply with our Russian hosts, who proved to be extraordinarily gracious and generous. I am forever thankful to them for a deeply gratifying visit.

(Photo by Bill Gentile.)

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

 

Friday August 9th, 2013

Video Journalism Visits Summer Palace

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, 1 August 2013 – Following the first and second sessions of the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media, our Russian hosts took us to the Peterhof Summer Palace State Museum.

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) is the premier forum between the U.S. and Russia to strengthen relations with each respective government and society.  President Obama and President Medvedev established the BPC in July 2009 to reset U.S.-Russia relations and engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest for the American and Russian people.

(Photos by Bill Gentile.)