This Gallery is a sampling of videos from recent and older projects. The videos illustrate our methods and technological resources like the language portals. The work is both a product and a process, shaped by what communicates best with the people we are working with, and their aspirations for community participation and the change that can come from it.
Trailer: The Language of America – An Indian Story
(2009) 5 minutes
Will the 6,000-year-old Passamaquoddy language continue to disappear or find a path to revival? The people are determined, creative, and open to new forms of documentation. They are addressing community trauma and are making their language visible again. Documentary film style that also utilizes natural group conversation and facilitated documentary feedback.
See also: IMPACT
(2014) 7 minutes
The film describes (Linguist Guided) Community Self-Documentation (CSD) in action. Introduced by Speaking Place in 2014, CSD addresses the need to reduce the high cost of outsider documentation and improve data by utilizing speakers to produce the media thereby gaining immediate cultural contextualization, increased community participation, and more opportunities for language renewal.
Washington County –
One Day at a Time
(2010) 15 minutes
Once maligned as one of the poorest counties in the United States and the first place to experience significant oxycodone addiction, Washington County is a corner of Down East Maine where stereotypes of hopelessness and deep values of resilience based on human and natural resources were locked in struggle. Many policies and strategies for aid were changed for the better when lawmakers saw this film.
(2007) 6 minutes
Excerpted from a natural group conversation and activity event documentation organized by tribal elder, Deanna Francis as a step in language revival stimulated by her seeing a facilitated video feedback video, the Trading song (sung here) has multiple significations referencing two historical contexts as well as engaging several diaspora visitors in renewed language use and appreciation.
When We Spent the Night Here
An Example of Group Immersion Process for Fluent Comprehenders Reacquiring a Heritage Language
(2003) 12 minutes
Video feedback motivated a group of women to try and get back the language they “thought they had inside them but could not speak”. Using immersion learning group process, Julia Schulz helped many of the women become speakers of the language they had not been able to use since childhood due to lack of use and the community trauma and the feelings of shame and inferiority they had experienced. The clip is a chapter from Ben Levine’s Réveil-Waking Up French (2003)
The Passamaquoddy–Maliseet Language Portal Orientation Video
(2013) 9 minutes
The first endangered language portal linking a dictionary and video archive with audio and advanced searches, the Passamaquoddy portal has become a model for next stage utilization of language documentation. It offers valuable primary materials for researchers while at the same time serving as an educational and language revival platform for community initiatives. Julia Schulz describes how to navigate the portal’s many functions to begin to appreciate how the language works and the world view embedded in it.
Franco-Americans Confront Their History
(2003) 7 minutes
This excerpt from the documentary film Réveil-Waking Up French (2003) 80 minutes demonstrates different instances of facilitated documentary video feedback over a period of several years that resulted in a group being able to express and work with grief resulting from internally generated community trauma. Together, they watch a section of the film that was instrumental in helping the regional community transform shame into language revival.
Crime in South Orange New Jersey
(1972) 5 minutes
People’s Video Theater, New York City video pioneers who created facilitated documentary video feedback were commissioned to use video feedback to help defuse racial and police tensions in a nearby town soon after the Newark riots. Howard Gutstadt and Ben Levine conducted a series of feedback exchanges that revealed deep racism in the police department, a predilection toward using violence, and youth of both races in crisis. Funded by the United States Department of Justice, the film resulted in the removal and indictment of the Chief of Police and major funding for police retraining and recreation infrastructure for youth.
Jesse Little Doe on Language and Creation
(2008) 4 minutes
Jesse Little Doe is a language activist and teacher for the Wampanoag language which is being revived after not having been spoken for 200 years. She is also a MacArthur Genius Award recipient. Her discussion about language and creation, privilege and responsibility is an indigenous parallel to the materialism in the video on Risk. Excerpt from the documentary film, Language of America (2009) by Ben Levine.
A video class exercise documenting Tlinglit singing at the 2016 CoLang conference becomes a deeper communication between members of an endangered language community and outsiders. CoLang 2016 was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) and hosted by The Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The video class was conceived by Mandana Seyfeddinipur of SOAS and taught by Julia Schulz and Ben Levine.
Confronting Historic Trauma
(2002) 9 minutes
Documentary video and natural group conversation help unearth parts of people’s history they are either not conscious of or are unable to speak about, providing a means for gradually bringing out the whole story and overcoming the negative hold that it had had through shame or stigmatization, or fear. In this case, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in New England to suppress the French Language in the 1920’s had not only been forgotten (repressed) by the French, it had also been repressed by the dominant society and its professional historians. An excerpt from Réveil-Waking Up French (2003) by Ben Levine.
Christmas with the TurcottE Family
(2001) 6 minutes
A look into an all American family of four generations in the last stages of losing its heritage language. Was this a simple choice to assimilate for economic gain or are there repercussions felt through all the generations, “something unnamable that has been lost” that will adversely affect all their lives? An excerpt from Réveil-Waking Up French (2003) by Ben Levine.
A Language Lost
The heart of this clip is a piece of video (the card game sequence) of natural group conversation in which the facilitator guides the conversation to a topic she knows played a huge part in all their lives, but no one can speak about, namely violence against school children for speaking their language. The other interview segments, some are the result of video feedback, bring to life a piece of Passamaquoddy history that is familiar to many indigenous communities: the systematic attempt, at one time or another, of the authorities to destroy their language and identity at whatever the cost.
El Trompo (2010)
Filmed on our second visit to Totontepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, Rogelio Soto a Campesino, was at first skeptical about participating in a documentation of disappearing childrens games that his friends had suggested as both an example of what was being lost as his language, Ayöök, was starting to decline and also as a way to bring it back. After seeing feedback in his home, he agreed. What followed (with no captions as yet) became an opportunity to demonstrate his artistry and character and to tell his story about his and the community’s resilience. Apparently, captions aren’t necessary as this video has been viewed over 400,000 times on YouTube.
VD (1972) 10 minutes
With funding from Rockefeller University’s Scientists for Public Information, this early “street video” employing facilitated documentary video feedback revealed some surprises, not the least of which was that ordinary people would freely talk about having had STD’s as a way of sharing preventive information. More surprising when viewed decades later was that the film might have been an early warning of the AIDS epidemic had a conservative medical establishment been able to understand what the people were really saying.
(2001) 15 minutes
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is the worst news a parent can hear about their promising adolescent who has been experiencing difficulties. Previously, it implied a lifetime of isolation and hopeless trauma. This video presents a community-based family psycho-education model that has brought real positive change to thousands of families and mental health professionals. Used in over 15 countries used to train psychiatrists and recruit and train families the video has been a key element in the success of this model. Featuring Dr. William McFarlane, and funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and Dartmouth Medical School.
Wampanoag Language Reacquisition
(2008) 12 minutes
With the language not spoken for almost 200 hundred years, Wampanoag might not have been a likely candidate for revival. But thanks to the discovery of many documents written by Wampanoag people in the 1700’s largely in their attempt to keep their land from being stolen by Massachusetts colonists a language has been reborn. Follow Jesse Little Doe as she recounts her vision and the work that began a real language revival. This clip has been excerpted from Ben Levine’s film, Language of America, An Indian Story (2009)
Mentally Ill, Addicted, and Homeless
(2016) 5 minutes
Commissioned by the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership, the video describes the tensions between providers and clients when homelessness, drug, and alcohol interact. The videos are used to sensitize and motivate policy makers and medical professionals to address the problems that create systemic obstacles to health care for marginalized groups.
Young Parents in Down east Maine – Reading to Your Child
(2010) 3 minutes / one of a series
Connecting and building trust with hard to reach constituencies such as indigenous peoples or Harlem teens or as in this case like poor, rural teenage mothers is the kind of challenge that has shaped our methods from the early 1970’s. The drama of real change like when a young mother discovers the joy of reading to her child is often so moving to others it becomes a motivator to take up that behavior.
Funded by the United States Department of Labor, sponsored by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Washington County Coalition for Cooperative care.
A Different Kind of Justice
(2013) 6 minutes
50 years have passed since five white hunters invaded the home of Passamaquoddy elder, Peter Francis, and murdered him and several others because they would not hand over the women and girls for sex. For forty-five of those years, the story lay buried in the hearts of a family and community doubly traumatized, first by the murders and the losses and secondly by the systemic refusal of the justice system at all levels to prosecute. Then facilitated documentary video feedback and the discovery of new evidence motivated the family and its allies outside the tribe to pursue a different kind of justice. The story is evolving. This is a work sample from 2013; the project name has evolved since then.