Youth Documentary Academy: The social practices of filmmaking and media advocacy

Gino Canella


Youth Documentary Academy (YDA) is a seven-week documentary workshop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Through ethnographic research and collaborative filmmaking, I examine documentary production and exhibition as social practices that foster meaningful relationships between media makers and community organisations working for social justice. Between November 2016 and July 2018, I conducted 20 interviews with current and former YDA filmmakers, faculty and community organisers. Many YDA filmmakers produced films through first-person point-of-view testimonials, which explored intimate details of their lives and the issues facing their families and communities. Although this narrative style may individualise systemic injustices, I argue that the affective nature of filmmaking and film exhibition, and the partnerships that YDA developed with community organisations, helped youth realise an advocacy role. For filmmakers, the empathic dialogues that emerged at public screenings of YDA films illuminated the way media have the potential to foster solidarity.


Community media, connective media, digital storytelling, documentary, film exhibition, media production, youth media

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