Tibaldo: Communicating advocacy through film

THERE are many ways to tell a story. Though we basically categorize storytelling as verbal and non-verbal or a combination of both, we also know that there are unlimited ways by which a storyteller can better share his or her story. The National Information Convention that we attended in Davao City recently showcased how government communicators can reach out and disseminate vital information about the Duterte administration using online, on-air and on-ground infrastructures. The three-day conference focused on how public information officers can better frame the national narrative, create a welcome environment for business and inspire the Filipino people by assuring them that change is already happening in the country that hopes to provide a comfortable life for all.

Film director, writer and producer Baby Nebrida, the last speaker of the conference discussed Communicating advocacy through film. She stressed that we need to educate our audience and not just entertain believing that filmmakers can also serve as the voice of the voiceless society. She believes that filmmakers can have a strategic alliance with government because film is a powerful medium that can move people to change. Film also creates a great impact for moral, social, and cultural change that is likewise a potent medium of transformation Nebrida added.

The film director stressed that film motivate dialogues and plant images in people’s heads. “When we speak about the truth we create impact and good films inspire others to do good things” Nebrida rejoins stating personal encounters with people who watched her films. She adds that before being an advocate, we must identify our sense of purpose, know the mission and clear vision and embrace the passion that fuels you to get to your journey and destination. She further noted that one need to have that spark that keeps us motivated and moving. Nebrida’s slide presentation shows that cinema advocacy can uplift human spirit and create change because every film is a conversation with the world thus generates empathy and makes us think about life and uplift the human spirit.

Film should be entertaining, uplifting, educational, enlightening, engaging and it must touch the hearts of the audience. Nebrida’s film “Across the Crescent Moon” about human trafficking, drug smuggling and inter faith relationship by a Muslim government agent who is married to a Catholic girl touches culture and politics that is also meant to educate us on true-to-life situations like modern day slavery.

Sometimes filmmakers need to become cultural activists Nebrida stressed so that people will know our cultural action which should be parallel to political actions. Advocacy becomes personal if the filmmaker speaks up for a person or for an issue that need changing.

Explaining further, the lady film producer noted that art promotes creative thought. She advised artists to keep creating, educators to keep using art in innovative ways to educate students and for everyone out there to support art exhibits, support the theater, and go to the movies.

Art is a strong weapon for social change. In the process of making and appreciating art, we surrender the brilliance within ourselves and witness the struggles and brilliance of humanity through the process.

At the end of her talk, I approached Ms. Nebrida to ask for her business card and introduce myself as a committee member of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts – Cinema representing the indigenous peoples.

I learned before that the art and craft of cinematography is about how everything, from life experiences, technology, influences and individual’s visual style are compounded and applied in film. We choose in what field to specialize on and I remember Charlie Chaplin saying as quoted: “I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. Everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.” This individual uniqueness as said by Steven Spielberg in a quote “All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives. Every time I go to a movie, it's magic, no matter what the movie's about. Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Why not use the dollar for a bookmark?” With the easy acquisition of digital of audio-video recording gears and computer software for post-production and editing, anybody who has the proper knowledge on how films are made can come up with advocacies that can run parallel to big budget projects. Information officers need not hire or tap commercial firms to undertake the production of their advocacy programs like a short film because they themselves can do it with proper guidance. This is the kind of training-workshop that I look forward to undertake.
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