Mobile Movie Maker Dials In To Global Digital Literacy Deficiency
Armed with cell phones in their hands and heads chock full of ideas, low-income African and Brazilian adolescents are having their creative potential be awakened by the Art_Mobile project, an experimental mobile media-focused youth workshop series taught by Giuliano Chiaradia.
No stranger to the possibilities of mobile media himself, Chiaradia is the director of Beeep, Latin America’s first short film shot on a mobile phone, and is about to release 5calls, a project completely recorded and edited on cell phones. In order to share the knowledge he’s acquired over his two-decade career in art and television, he came up with the idea to host workshops with the aim of spreading ideas and innovations to underprivileged children who might not otherwise have access to such things.
During his workshops, young people learn how to explore the possibilities and limitations of their devices. If a particular cell phone doesn’t have a video editing app, Chiaradia teaches the student how to shoot longer takes. If there’s no camera, he encourages the creation of artwork like text-message poetry. “With the onset of new media, audio and visual production became more accessible. We depend on our own ideas to stand out," he says.
The one constant is that every class starts with the Mobile Symphony, where students play their ringtones conducted by the instructor, as shown in the video below.
The improvised orchestra is a ploy Chiaradia concocted to win over his first classes in two cities in Tanzania, a country in East Africa—the least connected continent in the world. In dirt poor Bagamoyo, he witnessed the amazement of children watching a video for the first time, and at the University Dar Es Saalam he found mobile users eager to communicate their own images to the planet.
“I’m very happy to make changes in the community. But not only in the communities. We can also use film to change the bad perceptions of people," said one of the participants in this mini-documentary Chiaradia shot on the project.
The participant’s hope is translated into art in the mobile video Umoja Solidarity, shot in stop-motion with plasticine letters. This and the other three videos created by the students in Bagamoyo are available on the web and were featured at the Tanz Cine Brazil Festival where they were showcased on an unusual projection screen—the filmmakers own bodies dressed in white shirts.
After Chiaradia returned from Tanzania on the Brazilian embassy’s invitation to teach mobile art last June, he came back to Brazil and held two workshops, one in Rio de Janeiro and the other in his hometown, Santos, in São Paulo. The video below, Retratos (Portraits), was produced in São Paulo.
Chiaradia has united participants on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean through the Twitter hashtag #art_mobile and has plans to take the project to as many cities around the world as he can in an attempt to “break the blockade.” He especially wants to bring the project to Cuba, where he went to school at EICTV (The International Cinema and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños).
In order to touch as many young people as he can, he’s counting on collaborative financing. “Imagine how much creativity there is in this huge universe of brains,” he says.