In just nine weeks flat, rank beginners turned their ideas of what it means to be homeless in Santa Barbara into astoundingly polished productions that did just what they set out to do: spark discussion and encourage reflection.
Thanks to a special grant from the Outhwaite Foundation, Antioch University Santa Barbara faculty members Stan Roden and Phyllis de Picciotto were able to meld their knowledge of filmmaking with Antioch’s emphasis on social justice. Ten students participated in the project, and four of their films kicked off the university’s new series, “In Conversation with Antioch.”
The four films were Homeboy by Jamie Fortin, Joanne Q Newly Homeless by Rebecca Anglin, A New Wave of Hunter Gatherers by Katharina Boll and Uncovered Students by Elizabeth Garden Danielsen.
All four of the films were enthusiastically received by the 60 people in attendance last Wednesday. Interspersed with the films was commentary by Academy Award-winning documentarian Margaret Lazarus and UCSB professor Alice O’Connor. They placed the students’ films in the context of earlier — and, in some cases, ongoing — societal ills, such as rape, child labor, the sweatshop system and exploitation of immigrants.
After all four films had been shown, Geoff Green, executive director of The Fund for Santa Barbara, led a lively discussion with the panelists and audience about homelessness, technology, and the intersection of media and social justice.
The panelists drew a firm line between propaganda and “point of view”; they said propaganda was designed to stop the thinking process whereas a point of view was designed to encourage it. They also said that documentaries should not only present the facts but point the way to a brighter future. In other words, they have to supply some answers to, “What can I do about this bad situation?”
Everyone will have a chance to see all 10 student films starting in April on both YouTube and TV Santa Barbara, where they will be replayed multiple times. The Roden/DePicchiotto class will be repeated next winter, and inquiries from the community are welcome. Click here for more information.
Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower its students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic and environmental justice. It provides both graduate degrees and bachelor’s completion programs at its thriving Santa Barbara campus. Click here to learn more.
— Patti Teel represents Antioch University Santa Barbara.