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Thoughtful new series: BBtv World
Julia Levitt, 30 Jul 08

Though my medium has always been the written word, I often marvel at how efficiently video can convey thoughts and feelings.

Worldchanging ally Xeni Jardin recently alerted us to BBtv World, a new series she's launching within Boing Boing tv.

The short documentary-style video posts (the first episode is about 5 minutes long) are personal glimpses of cultures around the world. According to the written introduction to the series, the aim is to provide "first-person glimpses of life around the world, told through the lenses and voices of Boing Boing editors, guest collaborators – and through the people in these places, their own stories, their own way."

Jardin's first video, titled "El Molinero," follows young indigenous girls in an impoverished rural village in the Guatemalan highlands. The girls are completing their daily chore of carrying bowls full of soaked corn kernels to the mill, to be ground into flour for making tortillas.



Jardin observes through maternal, North American eyes as the girls – some as young as five years old – operate the machinery, their chubby hands weaving in and out much too close to spinning belts and crushing metal plates. She narrates her concern into the piece, but she doesn't even need to. It's hard to watch children do dangerous work.

The short piece does some very effective, and very beautiful, storytelling. According to Jardin, the children themselves did some of the camerawork -- which lends an endearing wobble to some of the footage, and also results in some delicious asides, like when one girl stops to consider a cat peeking out from between houses.

I don’t think I completely agree that the piece tells "their own stories, their own way," if the "they" in question is the Guatemalan villagers. Although Jardin conveys their story very thoroughly, watching the video felt to me like reading a passage from the journal of a highly educated traveler. Once I understood that, however, I think that's what made me like it so much. These days, anyone with a solid Internet connection can watch plenty of amateur footage, and plenty of news coverage, from countries around the world. But it can still be hard to find something smart to connect to on a personal level like this. I like what Boing Boing is doing because it brings a friendly intimacy to international cultural awareness. I look forward to the next episode.

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Comments

Unfortunately, I could not get more than 10 second of video to download. So, hard to get a sense of what's with this.

I use a new iMac with high speed connection. And Safari. FYI.

Cheers!
Bruce


Posted by: Bruce Elkin on 2 Aug 08

OH, another 10 seconds loaded while I was writing the above note. It seems it's going to come through, but only in 4-10 second batches ever 30 to 60 seconds.
I'll go make some tea and see if I can get the whole thing to download, then watch it. It looks interesting, and sounds like a good idea.
Cheers!
Bruce


Posted by: Bruce Elkin on 2 Aug 08

OH, another 10 seconds loaded while I was writing the above note. It seems it's going to come through, but only in 4-10 second batches ever 30 to 60 seconds.
I'll go make some tea and see if I can get the whole thing to download, then watch it. It looks interesting, and sounds like a good idea.
Cheers!
Bruce


Posted by: Bruce Elkin on 2 Aug 08



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