Asphalt and Ivy: Student documentary story-telling

In Spring 2012, 13 Brown undergraduates took INTL1300, The Good Fight: Documentary Work, Social Change and Human Security. The class was designed around weekly screenings and discussions of diverse documentaries that addressed key themes in international relations and development studies, and illustrated different approaches to story-telling that inform diverse audiences about the lives of others, and which persuade, provoke, challenge or inspire them to reflect and act on pressing global issues.

The course also had a practical dimension: in their final project, students were asked to apply what they had learned about visual story-telling and argumentation in their own short film projects.  Working with the overall theme of “migration,” and in a spirit of close collaboration, the students shot, edited and directed a set of nine documentary shorts over the course of 6 weeks.

INTL1300 came out of Brown University’s enduring commitment to innovation and creativity in undergraduate teaching and learning, most recently expressed in the report from the Dean of the College’s office, The Curriculum at Forty.  It was made possible by support from Brown’s Creative Arts Council, and the Granoff Center.

Most important and inspiring was the dedication and commitment of the students—more than half of whom came into the class with no significant experience working with film.  It was, in their own accounts, enormously rewarding to uncover, research and then tell through film these stories of exile and escape, dislocation and adaptation, and prejudice and hope.

The films profile the experiences of diverse Providence residents--from Mali, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Laos and other countries--and the stories of various students' and professors' pathways to Brown across the boundaries of race, class, language and expectation.  They were screened at Brown University’s Granoff Center on Thursday May 10, in the following program.

Asphalt and Ivy: Stories of migration and belonging from Providence and Brown.

4.00-5.00pm Asphalt: Migrant stories from Providence and beyond.

Sanctuary City.  Emily Kassie and Brian Kelly.

Escape: Rebuilding a Life in Providence.  Ian Slater.

Tahamul. Golnoosh Mahdavi and Tala Worrell.

Rec Night.  Maya Harjo.


5.20-6.20pm Ivy: Stories of belonging from Brown and beyond.

The Other.  Caroline Sagalchik

Ramón. Bo Schlagel

Home. Cecilia Kerwin and Tanya Saxena.

You Belong Here.  Dorothy Lutz

Only in America.  Sammy Smith and Addie Thompson