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2013 Global Seminars

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Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya: The Art of Science Storytelling


"Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya: The Art of Science Storytelling" will be taught at the Mpala Research Center in Kenya from June 24 to August 1. It is led by Su Friedrich, professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and Katie Carpenter ’79, documentary film producer.

This seminar will guide budding filmmakers and Africanists to search for answers to two essential questions: How can the art of film advance the causes of science? How do communities use media to support their environmental activism? Over the course of six weeks, seminar students, in their work with dedicated scientists, filmmakers, and environmental activists, will begin to understand some of the crucial international development issues--water, wildlife, agriculture, and land use--and will learn how to communicate memorably about them through video.
Twenty students—fifteen from Princeton and five from Kenya—will be trained in digital video production, screenwriting, and editing and will work in small groups to produce a series of short and long documentaries. Students will also be encouraged to develop independent projects. Filming will entail numerous trips into the field, interviewing, and recording. Film screenings, readings, and discussions will complement weekly guest lectures by Africa-based filmmakers and journalists who have filmed a documentary or written articles about scientific issues such as desertification and endangered wildlife or about entrepreneurial tribal projects and the work by community activists on environmental issues. A daily class in Swahili is required.
No previous experience in filmmaking is expected. Technical training will begin at Princeton and conclude in Nairobi Four weeks will be spent at the Mpala Research Centre, where most of the filming will take place. A public screening of the final videos in early September on campus will conclude the seminar.
The course fulfills the Literature and the Arts (LA) requirement and is open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Admission is by application and interview.
The course syllabus will be posted as soon as it is available.


The Global Seminar in Kenya is cosponsored by Princeton Atelier and the Program in Visual Arts of the Lewis Center for the Arts and by the Princeton Environmental Institute. 
Throughout the Aspire campaign a number of alumni and friends generously supported the Global Seminars.