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August 14, 2007

Still Learning from Zambia – One Year Later

BY KAI KIM, MCC ART FACULTY, MESA, ARIZONA — A year ago, from August 8 through September 4, three faculty members and 14 students from Mesa Community College went to Zambia, Africa to make two films. That’s a pretty huge undertaking if anybody has any idea about what goes into making a film.

ZambiaKai.jpgAnd this was only possible because of the generous and magnanimous vision of Cyndi Greening. The students had not only learned so much from this experience but this journey really changed their lives. All of them appear different than their previous “middle-class” students from Mesa, Arizona. The lesson learned from real life experience in a non-classroom setting about technical issues of film making to learning to problem solve in Africa is a pretty amazing teaching approach. The end results were complete success.

Most of the students are pursuing careers in film related work. They have taken their experiences to pursue their dreams. What more could a teacher expect? I envy these students, because they had the opportunity to learn and experience something that really impacted them at an age when everything has not been tainted, when everything is amazing, when everything is possible!

Crew member Jeniece Toranzo put together a short video on the impact the journey had on the FilmZambia Crew. It brings back memories of where we all were a year ago.

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow

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August 16, 2006

Community of Beauty and Dignity

BY KAI KIM, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA –Yesterday we went to Livingstone which was the capitol city before Lusaka. We saw Victoria Falls and it was spectacular. The falls and the cliffs were massive, much larger than Niagara Falls. Afterwards, we went on a wildlife tour to see the animals in the wilds of Africa. We saw monkeys, water buffalo, rhinos, warthogs and two sleeping rhinos. As we were leaving, we were stalled for a long time by a herd of elephants on the roadway. It was a pretty amazing.

kabwataBatik.jpgToday we visited the Kawata craft village. It is a village of artisans who live and work in the village. As Fine Art Faculty at Mesa Community College, we were very interested in our Zambian counterparts. We interviewed basket weavers, wood sculptors, textile artists and jewelers. They talked about how they learned their art from family members or friends. The art in this village is passed on from generation to generation and also from artist to fellow artisan. It was incredible to see a community of artists who live and work together with their families. These artists earn a modest living making their art. They are able to support their family and do what they truly love to do. This gives them a great sense of pride and sense of identity. It really was wonderful to see this village adorned with art. Behind the thatched huts, men and women were working diligently on their pieces. As you go through, it is apparent that they have built a strong sense of community. They are supportive and appreciative of one another. It really was beautiful in a unique way.

We also drove through the high-density area of Lusaka, which is the urban sprawl of the city where we got to see the real side of Lusaka. Shanti towns of urban living with street vendors and people going on with their daily lives, exhaust and dust mixed with rust and bright colors. To some foreigners, this could appear as poverty but I really didn’t see it that way. It resembled any other city where the hard life of urban high-density living situation, like the ghettos of Detroit. But the difference was that the Zambian people looked proud and in a strange way there still exists a sense of order and dignity.

We have been here in Zambia for five days now and our experiences have been unbelievable. Since our arrival, we have been welcomed and accepted into their lives with much warmth and kindness. We are staying at the Kwazulu Resort, courtesy of Dr. Ng’oma. The resort is a modest enclave of rooms with a common courtyard in the center. This living space seemed to have been made for us. It has created an intimate community for all of us to bond and share our experiences. This whole experience has been enhanced by an incredible chef who has made us the most delicious meals. Food is a great way to bring people together and eating the incredible meals together has brought all of us closer. Working and eating, building a community of our own in Zambia.

August 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew

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July 27, 2006

Visualizing Our Future Battles & Glory

kaikim.jpgBY KAI KIM, MESA, ARZIONA — We will soon depart for Zambia on August 8th. My role as a faculty member in this project is to help with the documentation of artists and storytellers. We want to see how artists work and how their tradition has been carried on from generation to generation throughout contemporary Zambia. We want to record storytellers talking about their lives, the connection between the past and modern Zambia.

It’s interesting to read some of the MCC students’ blog posts where they are talking about “visualization” and “vision” because that is one of the things I wanted to write about. In my classroom, I talk about how in prehistoric times, artists were considered “shamans” because they had the ability to “visualize” something before they made an attempt or tried to make it a reality. They would paint images of the battle and the hunt on the walls of their caves before actually doing it.

Art is a form of communication, communication of one’s idea, and concept in visual form. Art came before language and writing; there were symbols and visual images and we have been communicating with them for a very, very long time. I studied painting, photography, and filmmaking as an undergraduate at San Francisco Art Institute. In my opinion, film is one of the highest forms of art because it combines, all the aspects of visuals (composition, color, form, textures), sound / music, light, writing/poetry/storytelling, acting and so forth. I am really looking forward to participating in the process of making the film and the documentary. Since all of the faculty and students come from the Fine Art Department at Mesa Community College, I am also looking forward to seeing end results. I think it will be something special.

OneZambia.jpgWe would like to use some of the training and documentary bits for our curriculum at Mesa Community College, also. I’m really excited about being able use them as teaching tools in my classroom. We hope that other faculty members in cross-disciplinary areas will benefit from them as well. Some of the departments that might find additional value include cultural geography, anthropology, English humanities and theater.

As part of the Zambian project, we will also work on establishing an ongoing international education exchange program between Zambian Universities and Colleges and MCC. There will be four faculty members and about twelve students going from Mesa Community College. Mesa Community College has some of the best art and design students I’ve ever seen and I’ve taught at many different colleges and universities. At MCC, we have great students and great teachers! I think the students are very fortunate to have courageous, innovative, exciting teachers and administrators who are giving them the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean they will be learning something beyond what they can ever learn in a classroom. A real hands-on experience, not in the streets of Phoenix or Mesa but in the mountains and streets of ZAMBIA, AFRICA!

June 24, 2006

Who We Are

BY THE AFRICAN VOICE DOCUMENTARY FILM CREW, MESA, AZ, USA - The last week, we worked on a short video to give people a sense of who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. Three of the editors put together versions of varying length.

WhoWeAreSm.jpg SHAWN DOWNS put together the Who We Are in Two Minutes movie. Shawn recently graduated from Arcadia High School and will be going to the LA Film School upon his return from Zambia. Shawn is an excellent cinematographer, gaffer and all-round crew member. Shawn had a short film in the PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL 2006. I'd count on seeing great things from him in the future.

WhoWeAreMed.jpg LINDSEY BLACK crafted the Who We Are in Five Minutes. Lindsey graduated from Mesa Community College. She has made numerous short films and is looking to build a career in the independent film industry. Lindsey enjoys acting, editing and producing. Already a Sundance veteran, Lindsey is looking forward the 2007 festival. She learned a great deal about networking at the last festival from actor, Adam Scarimbolo.

WhoWeAreLong.jpg MICHAEL MONTESA completed the Who We Are in 17 Minutes. Another Sundance veteran with a commitment to work in the independent film world, Mike is a respiratory therapist by vocation and photographer/cinematographer by avocation. Mike has won several awards at the annual Mesa Community College Art Show. In addition to being a great on-set photographer, Mike loves designing movie poster and DVD case covers. His designs are terrific.