Empowering Youth Through Participatory Filmmaking

Presented by Nilima Abrams
November 17, 2017

THE TENT VILLAGE is a collaborative film created by Nilima Abrams and four teenagers in India. The film was a wonderful “accident” that arose from another Fulbright project, and has been screened nationally on PBS and at festivals throughout the US and abroad. THE TENT VILLAGE is about roadside tent dwellers who pick through recycling or sell hair to survive. The Indian collaborators’ unique perspective, which is slowly revealed in the film, is that three of them are originally from the “Tent Village”, with the fourth providing a perspective from a slightly less marginalized section of society. The filmmakers — who had eventually been educated by an NGO — share their own and their relatives’ stories with empathy and nuance, tackling difficult topics like child marriage and caste stigma.

This workshop will be led by Nilima, along with Saritha and Aliveli, two of her youth collaborators visiting Arizona. They will delve further into the participatory process, including how the film came about, and the challenges and opportunities it presented, from both the student and teacher perspectives. They will also discuss broader participatory filmmaking techniques and issues such as basic teaching techniques, privacy and safety, creative control, finding narrative in found footage, and drawing out stories that are “empowering” versus “shaming”.

Now aged 22, this will be one of Saritha and Aliveli’s first opportunities to share about the film. Since its completion they finished school and have been working in India at insurance and consulting firms, and are supporting their families. This is their first travel outside of India and they are very much looking forward to meeting new people and sharing their experiences.