WASHINGTON, DC, 16 September 2013 — Esther and I received notice this morning that our film, “THROUGH THEIR EYES” has been selected to participate at the 23rd edition of the London Latin American Film Festival which will take place at BOLIVAR HALL, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON /INSTITUTE OF THE AMERICAS and at other venues across London from 15 to 24 November 2013.
The London Latin American Film Festival is a cultural event dedicated to showcase the best of contemporary Latin American cinema in London, awarding the Audience Award and providing a platform for the distribution and sales of the films.
Esther and I are very, very proud of this.
WASHINGTON, DC, 22 March 2013 — Some of the footage used in this piece about JFK was drawn from “Through Their Eyes,” the one-hour documentary that my wife, Esther, and I made about AU Abroad students in Cuba during fall 2011. We’re proud to see it used in conjunction with coverage of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s speech on world peace.
You can watch the video HERE.
We screened a fine cut of our documentary on 30 January of this year. The final version should be ready for distribution soon.
How curious that the histories and the destinies of Cuba and the United States still are bound together so tightly. And how sad it is that the AU Abroad program that we documented in 2011 will not be conducted in Cuba this year for lack of student enrollment.
- Bill Gentile
22 March 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, 23 February 2013 — The seeds that my AU Abroad students planted in Cuba during fall semester 2011 continue to bear fruit. Click HERE to read a story and to see pictures made by Efrain Ramirez, one of six AU students studying on the island at that time. All six students took my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course. They took four other classes, all from Cuban professors.
HAVANA, Cuba, 3 November 2012 — Students enrolled in my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” class of AU Abroad’s semester in Cuba head out in a 1950s “maquina” for a photo expedition in Old Havana. I had the opportunity to spend time with the students as they enter the final lap of their fall semester here, and begin work on their photo stories/essays. Photos by Carlos Ernesto Escalona Marti.
Above, a close-up shot of our vehicle’s dashboard.
Above, Radhika Raman at the ready with her camera.
HAVANA, Cuba, 7 September 2012 — The sun also rises over Havana, Cuba, from where I just returned after having spent a week supervising my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” class, to be taught this semester by a Cuban instructor. This is the early-morning view from my room on the 8th floor of the Hotel Presidente, where I stayed. While in Havana, I met with this year’s group of AU Abroad students, some of whom are using Sony’s new Alpha 77 DSLR cameras, one of the latest to arrive on the scene of backpack video journalism. Sony has loaned American University’s School of Communication more than a dozen of the cameras, a handful of which are being used by our students in Cuba.
American University is only one of eight in the United States to receive the Sony “loaners.” AU Abroad takes about 1,000 students to study overseas each year. Cuba is one of those locations.
We now are in full throttle of the technological revolution that makes the methodology of video journalism possible. These handheld cameras, which are highly regarded by young documentary filmmakers, can help produce a brand of visual communication far more immediate, far more intimate than can larger, shoulder-held cameras with extended crews.
I’ll be returning to Havana this semester, probably in November, to check in on our students — and the work they’re doing with the new Sony cameras.
HAVANA, 31 May 2012 — Abel Carmenate Abreu, staff photographer for Casa de las Americas, made this image of me while I tested the new Sony Alpha 77 HDSLR last week in the Cuban capital. Abel is a staff photographer for Casa de las Americas, Cuba’s premier cultural institute. Sony has loaned 15 of these cameras to American University’s School of Communication (SOC) as a show of support for our Backpack Journalism Project, which I launched a few years ago. I was testing one of the cameras in Havana because some of the students in our AU Abroad program will be using them during fall semester 2012 in Cuba. It seems like the perfect tool for my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course, one of five courses the AU Abroad students will take while in Cuba. It also seems like a perfect first step in the progression to Backpack Journalism. (All photos, except the last one of Abel, by Abel Carmenate Abreu.)
Below, a close-up of the new camera.
Below, I make an image in one of Havana’s plazas.
Below, a picture I made of Abel.
WASHINGTON, DC, 4 April 2012 — Here’s the latest piece that Time Magazine posted from our work in Cuba last fall semester. It’s another example of what one properly trained practitioner — a backpack journalist — can achieve with limited gear. We could never have done this with a traditional, extended crew. The operation would have been too bulky and way, way too expensive. Esther did a great job on the editing. We hope you like it. You can watch the story HERE.
HAVANA, Cuba, 15 December 2011 — Participants in the Backpack Documentary Workshop at the Advanced Institute of Art pose for a group photo at a dinner reception following our four-day event. The workshop was an extraordinary success, the last stage of which is a visit to American University by the winning team of Cuban students, who will show their short documentary on “Diversity in Cuba.” The workshop was made possible by a grant from the Reynolds Foundation. The grant was procured by Eric Hershberg, director of American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS).
HAVANA, Cuba, 15 December 2011 — Our hosts at Casa de las Americas, Cuba’s premier cultural center, held a going-away party for American University students, professors and friends at the end of our fall semester in Cuba. This was the first time that AU Abroad held a semester at Casa. And it was the first time that an AU instructor has spent an entire semester with students overseas.
During our stay in Cuba, I taught my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course, the foundation upon which I teach the methodology that we refer to as “backpack journalism.”
HAVANA, Cuba, 13 December 2011 — We’re in the second day, Production, of a Backpack Documentary Workshop at the Advanced Institute of Art, known by its Spanish acronym, ISA. The four-day workshop has been made possible by a grant from the Reynolds Foundation. The grant application was submitted by Eric Hershberg, director of American Universityâ€™s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS). The ISA is Cubaâ€™s premier institution for the study the arts, including communication.
(Photos by Esther Gentile.)