Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reel Grrls in Detroit this summer!

As we say goodbye to summer, here at Reel Grrls we've been reflecting upon all the rad stuff we did last season: Like traveling to Detroit in June for the Allied Media Conference and US Social Forum!

(coincidentally, tonight the NW Media Action Grassroots Network & Reclaim the Media are holding a reportback from all the Seattle folks who made it out to Detroit, at Hidmo on 20th & Jackson at 6:30)

Reel Grrls was seriously representin' at this year's Allied Media Conference. In attendance (from left to right) were board member Adrienne Wiley-Thomas, participant Mariana Urban, staff members Nickey Robare and Lila Kitaeff, and graduates Tani Ikeda and Monica Olsson. What an awesome showing!

I had a great time at the conference, but I'll let grad Monica Olsson tell you all about it:

Hello Reel Grrls family and RG followers!

I was fortunate enough to attend the AMC from June 17th to the 21st with the fabulous RG team.  Our time together was a whirlwind of hard work, workshop-ing, hot hot sunshine, lots of laughs, art, music, and beautiful collaboration.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly is the AMC?  Well, the Allied Media Conference is a three-day event that happens each year in Detroit.  This year the AMC was followed by the U.S. Social Forum, which also took place in Detroit. The AMC is a national convergence of people from all over the United States that come together to discuss the importance and direction of media justice, democratic media, and the role of media justice in social movements, and representation. The purpose of the AMC is to network, learn new things and new skills, and leave with renewed inspiration to use media to make positive changes in the world. There is a huge youth presence at the AMC, and I was happy to note that several of the individual workshops and workshop tracks (different themes or focuses) were led by youth.

Mariana and I stayed in a dorm room together at Wayne Sate University, where the AMC events were taking place.  We had the opportunity to meet a lot of other folks also staying on campus from so many different cities across the country; I couldn’t count them now even if I tried! Our mornings began early with complimentary breakfast and coffee through the conference.  Then it was off to a full day of workshop-ing, taking notes, and sharing ideas.  I felt as though I was in a constant comforting yet challenging information bubble my entire time at the AMC.  It was so wonderful to stretch my thinking and unite with a community of like-minded people.

Reel Grrls definitely took the conference by storm (the Reel Grrls way of doing things, if we’re honest). We put on our working gloves mixed in our playtime together. Our second day there we co-led a workshop called the Next Generation of a Queer Trans Youth Narrative.

We worked with Sid Peterson from the Three Wings Organization that was created through the Queer Youth Space this past March.  Reel Grrls also worked with Kalil Cohen from Reel Boi Productions.  During this workshop we screened the 2004 RG video “Coming Out”, and a segment from the Three Wings’ documentary “Put this on the Map”, and also a piece from Kalil’s short film.  The workshop group engaged in a participatory conversation about the media presentations.  This is when smart people said smart stuff, and I loved every minute of it.  We played a game that explored the intersectionality between gender and sexuality that spurred even more wonderful conversation and debate.

Perhaps however, the most fun and inspiring thing we accomplished during this workshop were the small group PSA video clips.  The workshop participants divided up into three or four groups and brainstormed together what they wanted to see presented/represented through media as the Next Queer/Trans Narrative, beyond the linear coming out story line.  Sound bites were then chosen to be video recorded, and edited together.  For example, some people said things along the lines of, “I want to see more out public figures or Politians” or, “I want to see more representations of Queer Asian Americans”.  We pulled together a few of the strongest sound bites to show during the closing ceremony on the last day of the AMC! Here's the clip that played there to thundering applause:

The Next Generation of Queer/Trans Youth Narrative from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

My favorite part of the AMC without question was something that happened for the first time this year in the history of the conference.  This year there was a strong disability presence in the fact that there was a Disability Social Justice track.  This means that a complete series of workshops throughout the conference centered on discussions of disability from a positive, proud, and social liberation point of view.  The Disability 101 workshop explored different ways of defining or looking at disability with a focus on the social construction of disability.  This explains that there are ongoing attitudinal and physical barriers constructed and maintain that create or manifest the experience of being a disabled person.

I felt that it was pretty darn fortuitous that I came to the AMC with RG this year because I am a disabled filmmaker and a student in the Disability Studies at UW. Reel Grrls is also becoming more comprehensively accessible and inclusive as a program. A few people from Sins Invalid were at the AMC and lead workshops.  Sins Invalid is “a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse” (www.sinsinvalid. org). Sins Invalid is based out of the Bay Area, and I have been yearning to see a live performance of theirs for a bit now. So, being able to workshop with some of the program’s members put a smile on my face, and totally made my day!

A big thank you to Reel Grrls and MAG-Net for making this trip happen!  Next year I hope to see a larger group from Reel Grrls attend the AMC!



Thanks for the inspiring words, Monica! I wholeheartedly agree, and will add that Reel Grrls also led a second workshop called "Media Literacy Mad Libs" that was a lot of fun:

Also, staff members Nickey and Lila (that's me) stayed on for the US Social Forum, in which social justice organizers from all over the country working on many different issues took over Detroit for the week! 10s of thousands of us streamed in to the city and participated in workshops and programs, People's Movement Assemblies, and an amazing march through downtown Detroit:

As Monica mentioned, we are grateful to the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) for funding us to go to Detroit, as well as all of the RG supporters who stepped up to make this trip possible. We had an amazing time and can't wait for next year's Allied Media Conference! Save the Date: June 23-26, 2011

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