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Patricia Zimmermann (Screen Studies) Cocurates We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media National Touring Exhibition

Contributed by Karen Armstrong on 09/19/19 

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Patricia Zimmermann, Professor of Screen Studies and Codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, and Louis Massiah, Executive Director of Scribe Video Center, have cocurated a national touring exhibition entitled We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media Archive. The XFR Collective was part of the team and provided research and archival assistance.  

The entire exhibition showcases ten hours of documentary work from 36 different community media organizations from 19 states and Puerto Rico. It recovers the hidden histories of American participatory community media, expanding the ecologies of documentary.

The fifteen sites for the We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media national tour extending from October 2019 to end of March 2020 are:

Albuerque, New Mexico
Anthology Film Archives, New York, New York
Appalshop, Whitesburg, Kentucky
Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles, California
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca College
Lightbox Cinema, Philadelphia
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana
MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California
Rice Cinema, Rice University, Houston
Squeaky Wheel Art Center, Buffalo, New York
University of Chicago
University Cinema, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
University of Colorado

We Tellfeatures six different programs:  Body Publics, Collaborative Knowledges, Environments of Race and Place, States of Violence, Turf, Wages of Work. Venues will screen all of the programs or a selection of programs, with either Massiah or Zimmermann present as well as some of the makers of these projects or representatives of these various community media organizations.

We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media chronicles the hidden histories of place-based documentaries that situate their collaborative practices in specific locales, communities, and needs for social and political change.

Participatory community media represents a unique form of short documentary practice produced with communities and the subjects engaged in decision-making and representation. These works embrace and enhance the micro rather than the macro as a production strategy. 

They shift discourse and debate from the national to the local. Instead of the long form theatrical feature, participatory community media utilizes the short form documentary circulating within and across communities and politics.

We Tellentailed five years of planning, research, programming, and design with a national team of curators, researchers, archivists, designers, and production staff.

We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation Just Films. 

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