Gimme Some Truth is a local film festival the celebrates the art of documentary. The four day event offers both the audience and the filmmakers a forum to discuss the film making process, challenges and rewards of documentary.
Filmmaker and regular SCENE contributor, Jim Agapito takes part in a "Documentary in Art Practice" panel on Sunday, October 16th, at the Cinematheque. The panel will discuss the power of documentary within a community and will use Live from 95, produced by Jim Agapito and Ervin Chartrand as the example.
SCENE asked Jim Agapito his thoughts on the lessons he learned using documentary to collaborate with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).
I had never worked with a community-based organization prior to working with IRCOM. Having that opportunity, through the Winnipeg Arts Coundil's With Art Program changed my life.
Here are 5 lessons that I learned:
1. Documentary is a great way to give young people a voice.The youth of IRCOM never felt fairly represented by the media. Because IRCOM is located near Central Park, newcomer youth felt they were stereotyped. Kids will be kids and yes, they might wear baggy pants and crooked hats but that doesn't give anyone the right to think they are all gangsters.
My heart goes out to everyone at IRCOM who was chased, associated, detained or mistaken as being a gangster. My film helped the youth talk about those challenges. It's a side you don't always get to hear.
2. "Art can prevent crime. It's that simple." That's what Wab Kinew says in the film. Wab mentored the youth in hip-hop song writing.Several of the kids in our program were on the fence about joining gangs. When you don't have anything to do after school and have a hard time fitting in because of language/culture issues, that is when you are most likely to join gangs.
Our program helped the kids feel accepted and kept them out of trouble after school. This is why programs like this are so important. Keep 'em out of trouble. Not to mention many of the IRCOM youth were in conflict with Aboriginal gangs. Working with Wab and "Life From 95" co-director Ervin Chartrand (a former gangster) helped to squash racial tension.
3. Rewards are important and pizza works. Both co-director Ervin Chartrand and I used pizza as a means to reward the kids. They would work extremely hard to get a slice. It sounds funny but that little thing helped Ervin and me connect with the youth. Oh, and I was happy to feed them considering many youth don't go home and eat after school. So if anyone out there works with kids get them pizza. We tried feeding them other things but it failed terribly.
4. Perspective is where it's at. The youth of IRCOM taught me something important. I'm not like them, they are not like me, but together we can make something amazing. My perspective is completely different from theirs but the way they look at that very same thing is sometimes more beautiful than the way I've ever seen it. Whatever IT is. I hope you can understand what I'm saying because that's the only way I can explain it.
5. Inspiration changes people. Working with IRCOM has changed me...and my entire perspective on filmmaking. I've dedicated myself to giving voices to groups, organizations and people that can't be heard. You can't deny what you see in front of you. That's the power of documentary.
I'm currently working on two projects; one is about the positive transformative power that boxing can have on high-risk youth and community. The other is on how important the "With Art Program" is for Winnipeg. Here's a trailer of "Engaging With Art".
Jim Agapito, Filmmaker