diversity digest
Summer 02
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Film Resources from Active Voice


ACTIVE VOICE, a multicultural, nonprofit organization, uses documentary film and television programs to encourage community dialogue on social and human rights issues. To accomplish this, Active Voice trains facilitators to use video modules to inspire discussion, to raise awareness, and to build a spirit of community and a safe environment for discussing sensitive issues. The ultimate aim of the community discussion is to help community members strategize and implement activities and actions to help improve particular social issues. Active Voice provides facilitators with strategically selected video modules to heighten understanding of main issues, training and technical support, and a community action kit that serves as a guide to lead discussion and plan and implement action on the community level. Active Voice campaigns are currently organized around two broad themes, A Changing World—campaigns with a global and international focus, and Challenging America—campaigns about race, cultural identity, and social justice in the U.S.

The New Americans is a multipart documentary film produced by Kartemquin Films, which Active Voice will use as part of its global campaign. The series traces the immigrant and refugee experiences of five families with ties to the Dominican Republic, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam, and the West Bank. Active Voice believes the New Americans series will be used by policy groups, immigrants groups, interfaith groups, cultural groups, and other community groups as a catalyst to spark discussion and community improvement. The intimacy and authenticity of the stories and the group experience of watching the stories together will help to engage audiences in a unique way. Active Voice believes the series will help build bridges in communities with immigrant populations, sensitize people who work and interact with new immigrants and refugees, address anti-immigrant bias, and encourage dialogue and coalition building among community members working and living with new Americans.

At AAC&U’s Diversity & Learning 2002 conference (October 24-27) in St. Louis, participants had the opportunity to preview an excerpt from the not-yet-released New Americans series. Ellen Schneider, executive director for Active Voice expressed her enthusiasm for the New Americans’ use as a teaching tool: “The New Americans is a sweeping, longitudinal drama tracing families leaving their country of origin and spending their first few years in America. It is an invaluable tool for college and university personnel to better assist, serve, and understand transnational and international students, whose lives extend across countries, borders, and cultures. It will help them understand the courage, trials, and challenges inherent in the immigrant experience.”

For more information about Active Voice, contact them at 1601 Mariposa St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-553-2841, or at www.activevoice.net.



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