I had never attended or facilitated a meeting where the agenda completely changed the day before the event began But in the end this was one of the most important lessons I took away from the Latin America Video 4 Change (V4C) convening: the flexibility to achieve goals.

A short video by Laura Herrero about the V4C Latin America Convening.

On the 19th, 20th and 21st of July, WITNESS and SocialTic hosted a convening in Mexico for video activists from around Latin America and the Caribbean. Our goal was to exchange knowledge and analyze joint actions between collectives that work on video for social change Almost 50 people from 14 countries in the region got together at the Human Rights Center Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez in Mexico City with the following objectives: to get to know each other better and to reinforce existing ties and seek new ways to organize ourselves collectively. Despite diverse approaches to video work, there are clear principles that guide our practice: to create transformative audiovisual work; the inclusion and participation of communities; the development of our own spaces for production, distribution, and teaching that contributes to more people and communities using video to tell their own stories and struggles.

The meeting was held within the framework of the V4C activities, a global network built more than three years ago by diverse organizations and coordinated until now by Engage Media, and supported by WITNESS and Social TIC (co-organizers of the Latin America and Caribbean convening). The network seeks to be a meeting and action space for organizations that work on video for change.

From the beginning, the groups present owned the space and decided that the convening time should be used to work on concrete issues. In order to do this, we modified the agenda in a collective manner the evening before the meeting was scheduled to formally begin. One of the things we agreed to do was to develop an interactive map that would feature content from the collectives with the ability to filter by date and category.  To accomplish this we created a working group to determine the categories that would be used to filter the map. These included key themes like territory, feminism, human rights and many others; and other search criteria like audiovisual works’ format, length, and genre. The current version of the map can be previewed here.

Ice breaker. Photo by Laura Herrero.

At the beginning, I thought this would be a  tremendous challenge; yet during the first part of the meeting, we progressed quickly as we realized we shared similar world outlooks and needs, and quickly came up with collective work proposals that would help us strengthen our work in our home countries. At times, I felt we did not know what to do since we needed to modify the agenda to suit our needs while the event was going on. But I remembered than when facilitating, it is essential to maintain flexibility so that the meeting honors participants’ wishes and allows them to own the space. This is also one of the popular communication principles that many of us use in our media collectives.

So the collective spirit progressed. The group decided to call the page Territorio Audiovisual or “Audiovisual Territory” in English. By day two were planning the features of the future website: Audiovisual Territory, A Collective View of Latin America and the Caribbean, where we planned to add the map, tools, and other materials created by the groups of the region.

Within the participating  collectives, there is also a diversity in approaches that we wanted to highlight including groups that focus on community film, popular education, returning to Latin American roots, demystifying technology, and creating free and alternative media.

A concept that crosses many of these perspectives is the concept of the “decolonization of the frame” With this, we seek to show the Latin American and Caribbean viewpoint  in our audiovisual work, a viewpoint  that comes from our communities as opposed to external and imposed ways of seeing the world that have prevailed since colonization.

A draft of the map created by Territorio Audiovisual.
A draft of the map created by Territorio Audiovisual.

Thus, in the map embedded in the collective platform we are currently developing, we will have the possibility of looking up audiovisual works aiming to promote of social transformation in the region. We will also be able to use filters to narrow our search and find specific works that we can show the communities with which we work, and thus reinforce the cycle: independent production-distribution that we seek out as part of audiovisual sovereignty.

We look forward to sharing the site with you!

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