Midway Conversations 2015: Neighborhood Documentary Projects Premiere

 “We aren’t training to be filmmakers, but use our cameras to learn.
Our neighbors have taught us so much.”


Hamline Midway Neighbors and Students Gather to Watch Minidocumentaries

This past Sunday afternoon our Visual Anthropology class hosted its fourth annual public screening and “thank you” party for our neighborhood—The Hamline Midway. While in previous years we had an early evening slot, this year the only time available was a late weekend afternoon. Despite this, however, we were very pleased to see nearly one hundred people in attendance. We ate seventeen pizzas and enjoyed plenty of freshly-popped popcorn while we watched a selection of student work.

For the fourth consecutive year our class has collaborated one-on-one and in small groups with volunteers in the neighborhood to learn and document aspects of life in our community. As I have noted in previous posts while we do study visual anthropology and use simple digital ethnography equipment the class is not about training filmmakers. Instead we use the cameras as an excuse to learn about our community. So, while the quality gets better year after year, there are still plenty of rough edges.

This year our class had four work groups for final projects. To mix things up a bit, we tried a new format—alternating the longer (15-20min) final documentary projects with some of the shorter, punchier 5-minute “microdocumentary” practice clips that the students prepared during the first half of the semester. Of these, the most fun ones were the silent black and white films.

The afternoon’s schedule of final projects (and microdocumentaries) was as follows:

(“The Process: Coffee”)
“How People Connect to the Hamline Midway” (15:49)
(“Baking Cookies”)
Immigrants in the Midway Neighborhood” (15:54)
(“Korean Heritage House”)
“Staying Connected: Family in the Midway” (17:50)
(“Interview with a Neighbor”)
“The Meaning of Midway Art” (15:55)
(“Folding Foam”)

Once again we want to thank the neighbors and and other volunteers who so generously gave their time, shared their lives and opened their homes and businesses to collaborate with our class on projects over the past three years. We would also like to thank the Hamline University Anthropology Department, Gene Gelgelu at (AEDS), The Hamline Midway Coalition and The Turf Club.

A selection of past projects and exercises are archived on our YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/HUVisAnth

If you are interested in being a volunteer for next year’s class please contact me at: ddavies@hamline.edu


The 2015 Class Takes the Stage to Answer Questions.


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