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Contributed by Melissa Gattine on 03/24/2014
Patricia Zimmermann, professor of screen studies and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), delivered invited lectures and conducted workshops on documentary new media forms in Guinea in February 2014. She was posted to West Africa as part of the American Film Showcase, a US State Department initiative to foster cultural exchange and understanding.
Zimmermann presented a formal lecture on new media entitled "New Emerging Forms of Documentary Participatory Media in Action" at US AID and the US Embassy in Conakry, Guinea, for the Guinean Film Association, a group of professional producers, directors and writers. Showcasing US-based transmedia projects exhibited in previous Finger Lake Environmental Film Festivals at Ithaca College, her talk theorized the function of collaborative, interactive, and permeable new media practices to open up spaces for new encounters.
She presented lecture entitled "Open Space Documentary: Participatory Media in Action" for students and faculty at two Guinean universities, Dubreka Arts Institute and Institute Superieur de Information et Communication. This talk focused on how US-based new media practices migrate between the analog, digital, and embodied as a way to expand and engage critical dialogues within a place-based strategy that opens up unexplored political, social, and historical terrains. Zimmermann also engaged open sessions to share ideas about FLEFF, new media, and emerging forms of documentary beyond big budget, feature length forms.
She also conducted an interactive workshop with civil society activists, amateur and community theater groups, French-speaking university students and other cultural activists. The workshop explored new media forms that engage dialogue about conflictual political and social issues in non-conflictual, inviting ways to expand dialogue at the US Embassy and USAID in Conarky. Her workshop focused on new media works that focus on exploring small locations through participation, invite engagement and encounters, and generate new spaces.
Zimmermann also gave numerous media interviews about American documentary and new media to journalists and news organizations in Guinea.
Zimmermann's presentations and work in Guinea were organized and sponsored by the US State Department. The US State Department named Zimmermann one of 25 film envoys in 2011 as part of the American Film Showcase, a joint project between the State Department and the University of Southern California funded by appropriations from the Congress of the United States.