EngageMedia was invited at the 13th Jogja-NETPAC Asian film festival which took place from 27 November to 4 December in Yogyakarta with “Disruption” as its central theme. During the festival, several special screenings, discussions, public lectures and educational sessions took place in various venues across Yogyakarta. On the 30 November, EngageMedia’s Pitra Hutomo and Egbert Wits organised a community forum on social impact and video for change for an audience of about 40 film-makers, activists and students.
Pitra launched the forum by introducing EngageMedia and the variety of activities the organisation initiates or has been involved in. She introduced the Papuan Voices program, which has enabled local youth from Papua to tell their stories via documentaries and films. Mama Mariode (2018), a short film from the 2nd Papuan Film Festival (2018), was screened to provide a glimpse of the initiative. The film featured indigenous woman Mariode discussing environmental issues in West Papua and was met with great enthusiasm. It also received a heartwarming applause from the audience.
After which, Egbert then introduced the Video4Change network and EngageMedia’s involvement in the network’s research on social issue documentary and impact. In particular, he shared various aspects of the Impact Pathway, a concept which helps film-makers, activists, individuals and organisations working with video on how to design for and evaluate social impact(s). Through relatable Indonesian films, the audience was familiarised with different types of social changes that can be achieved through video.
Egbert also stressed that, notwithstanding differences in video for change approaches, there are certain ethical values that all for video change practitioners should respect and uphold. These values range from risk management and inclusion and participation of others to ensuring transparency in expectations and the working process. However, he acknowledged that the implementation of these values is never a one-size-fits-all matter; as all is dependent on risk factors, existing power relations and level of engagement with affected communities.
Before opening the floor for questions, a short video documenting a participatory research was shown. The research is part of Highrise, a long-term collaborative documentary experiment that explores vertical living around the world. It is an excellent example of a participatory process with a strong capacity-building component that led to a positive impact during the research and development stages of a video for change initiative.
At the end of the session, the presenters received several questions, particularly on security. Fortunately, Manu and Thois from Papuan Voice were able to attend the session after their six-city Javanese screening tour. They joined Egbert and Pitra in front, and shared their experiences with regards to the tour and producing issues-based films in Papua. Their stories about dealing with the absence of roads and electricity in several communities, and making the most of simple equipment were inspiring and reminded all those present about the importance of persistence and belief in the process, as contributions to social impact seldom come overnight and are never achieved alone.
Interestingly, a question on how to quickly create more impact was directed to the presenters. Egbert answered explaining that it is more important to be more realistic in setting goals to achieve through the use of video; respectfully advising those who wonder similarly to revisit personal motives and expectations, prior to going out and producing an amazing impactful film.
The session ended with a group photo. Pitra and Egbert were also able to stay around to mingle and discuss with some participants. It was definitely a successful first appearance at JAFF. Hopefully, we will be able to join again next year!