Digital technology and emerging platforms have opened up new ways of reflecting life around the world.  We will share some content and begin a discussion with producers of five projects that have taken advantage of new technologies and novel production methods to bring global stories to North American and European audiences. What are the agendas in bringing these stories home? How do producers negotiate these cross-cultural exchanges? What strategies are used to engage audiences with distant lives and experiences?

This evening will feature a panel conversation with video clips from Video Nation (BBC 2), WSJ.com, Global Lives, Breakthrough, and Metropolis (VPRO), with producers in attendance for a panel discussion. Complete information on each participant below. Curated with Mandy Rose.


Video Nation was a ground-breaking access television and participatory media project which was co-founded in 1994 by producers Chris Mohr and Mandy Rose of the BBC’s Community Programmes Unit. Fifty people across the UK were given camcorders and training and recorded aspects of everyday life during the course of a year. Selected recordings were broadcast on BBC2 with the best known output, the Video Nation Shorts, broadcast on weeknights forty weeks a year for nearly six years. The project won a Race in the Media Award and the European Prix Iris. During Video Nation’s first decade ten thousand tapes were shot and 1,300 shorts were screened on TV. The project migrated to the web in 2001 and continues today in a new format as Video Nation Network.

Mandy Rose is an award winning producer who has overseen participatory and interactive projects including the BBC’s pioneering digital storytelling project Capture Wales (2001-2008), Voices (2004) & My Science Fiction Life (2005) the latter both webby nominated. Between 1994 and 2000 she was co-founder and producer of Video Nation. In addition to the UK project for which fifty people made recordings about everyday life, Video Nation travelled to the Caribbean, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Africa, and the Balkans, bringing vivid, first person perspectives from these regions to BBC screens. Mandy blogs at http://collabdocs.wordpress.com/


WSJ.com, the online arm of The Wall Street Journal, aims to tell the stories behind the numbers and increasingly utilizes multimedia tools and videos on the web to give the audience a glimpse of the lives of people all around the globe.

Hilke Schellmann is a producer with WSJ.com, her first initiative being the multimedia project Faces of Health Care. The videos which were narrated by the protagonists themselves, showed the struggle of every day people in the US with health insurance. It was pegged to almost all the WSJ.com stories about health care reform.  In March, Schellmann reported an influential video story about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. She met with the stakeholders in Germany and made a very moving video, in which the victims talked about their plights and the church also addressed these issues directly.


The Global Lives Project is a collaboration of more than 700 filmmakers, photographers, artists and everyday people working together to create a video library of human life experience. They have produced ten recordings of 24 hours of daily life of individuals in Brazil, Malawi, Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Serbia, Lebanon, Kazakhstan and the US. Their multi-screen video installations have been shown at museums, galleries, universities and public spaces around the world including the United Nations University in Tokyo and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Currently they are developing an interactive web version of the installation that allows for dynamic navigation within the video content, tagging, participatory subtitling, geolocation and hypervideo navigation, as well as a feature-length film.  Producers Rahul V Chittella and Khairani Barokka in attendance.


Breakthrough is an innovative, international human rights organization using the power of popular culture, media, and community mobilization to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity in India and the United States. Through initiatives in India and the United States, Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights.

Madhuri Mohindar is a Multimedia Manager of Breakthrough’s video documentary campaign Restore Fairness which deploys new media tools like online video, blogs, democracy in action tools and and social networking to mobilize action on fair immigration and racial justice. Its documentaries include “Face the Truth: Racial Profiling Across America” produced with the Rights Working Group, a coalition of 275 organization across America, ‘Restore Fairness’ documentary produced with 26 leading human rights and immigrant rights organizations, and ‘Death by Detention’, voted as ‘Best Long Form Video’ for the 2009 DoGooder TV Nonprofit Video Awards.


VPRO Television’s Metropolis is an award-winning TV show and new media project featuring content produced by a network of more than 60 documentary filmmakers from around the world. In each episode, Metropolis brings viewers a geographically diverse collection of short films, all grouped around a weekly theme. From obesity and the lives of fifteen-year-old girls, to self defense, outcasts and Elvis impersonators, Metropolis presents a new ‘global view’ every week, and exposes the surprising differences and similarities between people and cultures worldwide. The televised version of Metropolis has been airing in The Netherlands since 2008. All short films produced by Metropolis —over 600 in total—are also available worldwide on the show’s website, which recently won a special commendation from at the 2009 Prix Europa Awards.

Kel O’Neill (US) & Eline Jongsma (NL) have been US correspondents for Metropolis since the project’s inception. In addition, they are currently working on a new media project entitled Empire, which investigates the legacy of European corporate-colonialism in former Dutch East India Company colonies and trading posts in Asia and Africa.

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  1. [...] Fairness campaign’s immigration work at Union Docs in Brooklyn, New York on a panel titled, “Global Perspectives in Digital Media.” The panel will look at the ways in which digital technology and emerging platforms have opened up [...]

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  2. [...] a comment It was good to revisit UnionDocs in Brooklyn, last Sunday, to take part in a panel on Global Perspectives in Digital Media . I was talking about Video Nation‘s work abroad during the 1990s, and the fruitful results [...]

    Pingback by An Evening at UnionDocs | Collab Docs on November 1, 2010 at 5:41 am

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