Here the selection of documentaries screened and discussed during the conference.

Some of them have been uploaded to our YouTube channel:


A Loud Color

This film follows Louis Harding as he rebuilds the community center he opened just one month before Hurricane Katrina hit and destroyed his work. Despite the setback, 72-year-old Harding refuses to give up on his mission to combat poverty in New Orleans. He discusses the importance of history, heroes and self-esteem in the black community and explains why making his dream a reality is more important now than ever before.

About the film-maker: Brent Joseph

New Orleans native Brent Joseph has worked on both documentaries and fictional films for over ten years. He co-edited MTV’s “True Life: I’m Living in Iraq,” which won the 2005 Edward R. Murrow award for Best TV Network News Documentary. He worked as assistant editor on several films including Larry Clark’s Bully, Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane and David Fincher’s upcoming film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Joseph directed, photographed and edited another film about Hurricane Katrina entitled Holdout. He has been living in Austin, Texas, since the storm.

African Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal

I was inspired to make this film when I was writing my thesis in college about the role of Hip Hop in the 2000 presidential election and the positive impact that young people had on creating non-violent peaceful change in their country. The story inspired me to start Nomadic Wax – a global Hip Hop record label and film/events production company. Our longer film, African Underground: Democracy in Dakar, of which this piece is just one part, explores the transformative role of Hip Hop on politics in Senegal, West Africa during the February 2007 presidential election campaign. Looking at the election through the eyes of Hip Hop artists around Dakar, Senegal’s capital, this documentary mixes interviews, freestyles and commentary from journalists, artists and politicians. Senegalese society is seen on the brink of democratic change, where Hip Hop artists are one of the few groups not afraid of speaking out, despite real attempts at intimidation

About the film-maker: Ben Herson

Ben Herson is the founder and director of Nomadic Wax – a global Hip Hop record label and production company dedicated to recording, documenting and presenting Hip Hop and underground music from around the world. Herson is also a producer and musician. He has released over a dozen globally acclaimed albums and has recorded and produced numerous singles on compilations worldwide. Ben has also played the drums and percussion for numerous reggae legends, and has produced for Senegal’s top MCs co-founding and spearheading the critically acclaimed African Underground series of African Hip Hop. In 2004, Herson also co-founded the Trinity International Hip Hop festival, the first free international Hip Hop festival in the United States. In 2007, building upon his work in Senegal, Herson developed a seven-part documentary series on youth, Hip Hop, and politics in West Africa, titled African Underground: Democracy in Dakar.


In Rio De Janeiro there are 200,000 people who make a living by working as ambulantes, selling a whole variety of goods as they trudge up and down the beaches selling their wares to the Bahanistas, those who bathe and sunbathe on the beach. This is the story of Marcal and Otila, just two of the ambulantes, whose struggle to survive in the face of hardship and adversity s typical of so much of Brazilian society.

About the film-maker: Daniel Giannini Gonzales

[need updated bio]

Contested Terrains

The use of Mifflin Square Park in South Philadelphia by Cambodian and Laotian residents has engendered racist discourses about crime, violence, and contamination. Through interviews and documentary footage, Contested Terrains exposes the incongruities between racist perceptions of the park and its actual use by local Asian immigrant communities.

About the film-maker: Boone Thuy Nguyen

Boone Thuy Nguyen was born in Nha TRang, Vietnam and grew up in South Philadelphia. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a M.A. in Ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego. He has worked as coordinators of the Asian Arts Initiative at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, as programming director of the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and co-coordinator of the Prison Activist Resource Center in Oakland, CA. He is currently the program coordinator at Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia.

The Countdown

The Countdown is a collaboration that had been in the works ever since Sofia Snow and I met. We have been friends since taking the bus home together in the 3rd grade. Since giving her The Spoken Word Revolution for her birthday, Sofia has come to every screening of my first short films. We are friends who have supported each other through the years, but it wasn’t until our senior year that we had the idea to come together and create something. Our trust in each other came out through the process of making the film. With a work-in-progress piece titled The Countdown, Sofia decided to challenge herself by capturing the emotions that 9/11 created. To me, it was important not to take away from what Sofia had to say but to evoke the viewer to dig into their own memories of their experience. She trusted in my vision and I trusted Sofia in hers. When we came together to shoot, it flowed just like her poetry. The Countdown is something very personal for both of us and we appreciate the idea that others can take something away from it as well.

About the film-maker: Rene Dongo

Rene Dongo, a Boston native, began to make short films as a student of Boston’s ICA Fast Forward program. He strives to create new emotions with the use of humor or charged imagery in his films. Rene has shown his work in festivals across the country, including the Atlanta Teen Screen, Future Filmmakers Festival Chicago, Cloud Place Youth Fusion Film Series and Roxbury Film Festival where he won “Best Youth Filmmaker” in 2005. Rene is currently a film major at Emerson College.

Face to face

This short documentary is set in Cameroon, but also takes place in locations as varied as Dubai, Libreville, and Geneva. The subject concerns transnationalism and the contemporary African diaspora. We have used the means of new digital media to record correspondences between estranged friends and family in Cameroon and in their respective places of immigration and exile. As the exchanges develop, w gain insight into the conflicts and affections of the individual participants, as well as some understanding of their perceptions of their places of relocation.

About the film-maker: Michaela Pelican

Michaela Pelican is a Swiss anthropologist with considerable research experience in Cameroon. She has used film, photography and theatre for development as part of her research methodology, and is presently carrying out a post-doctoral research project on ‘transnational relations of Cameroonian Muslim migrants’.

Encountering the Multicultural City

Encountering the Multicultural City is a short video documentary about New York’s Astoria, Queens. The video explores how Astoria is shaped by its residents and workers and how Astoria in turn, shapes its residents and workers. The theme of encounter served to sensitize our team (and serves to sesitize the viewer) to how place is made thorugh space and time. Encountering the Multicultural City captures revealing encounters between people; people and the things in their environment, and memory and materiality. It presents Astoria, Queens through encountering diverse sounds, others, new choices, new tastes and community. The video seeks to show how the multicultural city is made through multiple pathways and how both people define place and place defines people.

About the film-makers:

The group of students and young professionals that collaborated on this project crossed many bridges throughout this collaborative process. We bring to the project a tremendous diversity of perspectives rooted in our diverse ethnic and national origin backgrounds, educational and professional foci and experiences. The team members are: Rosemary McGunnigle (Director, Co-Producer, Camera, Editing), Sissy L. Villamar (Director, Co-Producer, Camera, Sound, Editing), Glenn J. Guerra (Co-Producer, Camera), Kumi Ishizawa (Sound), Tiamara S. Minott (Camera, Editing), Cristina Gomez Ojeda (Camera), Cesar Gonzales (PA), Daniel A. DiMatteo (PA) and Eun Kyon Shin (PA).

Blue Tarp City

Henry Mochida

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