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Documentary, Teaching, Video clips, Visual Anthropology Class

Midway Conversations: A Neighborhood Documentary

Midway Conversations at The Turf Club

Last Wednesday night, Midway Conversations premiered at the Turf Club. The film was the final project of a collaborative neighborhood-based research project done by the Spring 2012 anthropology senior seminar at Hamline University.

The premiere wasn’t without a few last-minute snafus—not least of which was a missing segment in the final copy of the film—but by about 5:45 the popcorn popper was full of hot popcorn and we had a high stack of Checkerboard Pizzas ready to serve. Following a brief introduction, the lights were dimmed for the assembled group of students and neighbors to enjoy thirty minutes of conversations about our neighborhood.

The students in the class were not filmmakers, and that would have been immediately clear to anyone watching the documentary. The project’s goal, however, was to use basic skills and simple equipment—the kind that nearly all of us have in our pockets these days—to see what we could produce collaboratively. The small hand-held cameras were the method to get neighbors and students talking—individually and in groups about their understandings of the neighborhood.

Making the film was the class pedagogy for learning and social engagement and its completion marked the end of the class. The public premiere on Wednesday, however, was really the end of the project—an opportunity to bring students and neighbors together at a local establishment to watch and discuss the film. In other words, the film was more about the process than just the product. (For those who may be interested, I have been working on a longer discussion and analysis of the class that I will link to this page when I finally finish it.)

Now that the film has been first shared with the neighborhood, we can release it publicly. The film is inserted below and can be shared by going to the link on YouTube found here. It was fun to see so many neighbors, students, families and kids all packed into The Turf Club last week. It seemed that everyone enjoyed the chance to be together. Thanks again to everyone who participated in this project and for support by Irrigate and The Turf Club.

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  1. Pingback: Mobile Visual Ethnography Equipment | Museum Fatigue - March 14, 2014

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