CEE | Center for Experimental Ethnography
ETHNOGRAPHIC FILMMAKING: A SCREENING OF FINAL PROJECTS FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA + GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION PROJECT
How do you continue making a film when the access, plans, and conditions underlying it suddenly dissolve? Students in Amitanshu Das's class grappled with this question last semester when, in the midst of creating documentaries with/of students across Philadelphia highschools, the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt stop to both on-site filming and the school programs featured in the films. This month we are screening their films, and will be following up in July with conversations with the students about their process and their experience remotely and collaboratively editing films during this time of physical distancing.
In the SDP (School District of Philadelphia)-GSE (Graduate School of Education) Penn Film Program, students learn about ethnographic filmmaking by making films in the community. The program is led by founder Amitanshu Das (Senior Fellow and Director at the Penn GSE and the Annenberg School for Communication) with the Ethnographic Filmmaking courses taught by Das and Kathleen Hall. In the fall, Penn students first learn filmmaking and are introduced to ethnographic principles, approaches and methods. Planning for this year's program started more than a year ago in Spring 2019, when Philadelphia high schools were invited to apply to be one of three selected schools, finally resulting in Sayre Highschool, Girls High, and the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts being chosen
Amitanshu (Amit) Das is a senior fellow and director at Penn GSE and the Annenberg School for Communication. He has produced broadcast documentaries, filmmaking courses, workshops, and an Academically-Based Community Service filmmaking program in collaboration with Philadelphia’s public schools, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Through coursework and related initiatives, Mr. Das has provided in-depth film training to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. He established and currently leads the School District of Philadelphia (SDP)-Penn GSE Film Project. A central component of this project is a year-long course co-taught with Dr. Kathleen Hall and supported by grants from the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Teams of Penn students are first trained in filmmaking and then collaborate with Philadelphia high school students to produce films on their schools, local communities, and personal lives. SDP-Penn GSE films have been broadcast on PSTV Comcast Philadelphia Channel 52 in 2016 and 2017.
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