Big stories small towns: Asia Pacific (Indonesia & West Papua)

Potter, Martin, Aditjondro, Encrico, and Wijanarko, Dodid (2016) Big stories small towns: Asia Pacific (Indonesia & West Papua). [Creative Work]

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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Alex's Story from the Big Stories, Small Towns: West Papua site) - Published Version
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[img] Video (QuickTime) (The Sago Maker from the Big Stories, Small Towns: West Papua site) - Published Version
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[img] Video (QuickTime) (Menas' Story from the Big Stories, Small Towns: West Papua site) - Published Version
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[img] Video (MP4) (Wanti's Story from the Big Stories, Small Towns: Flores project) - Published Version
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[img] Video (MP4) (Nona's Story from the Big Stories, Small Towns: Flores project) - Published Version
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[img] Video (MP4) (Yanto's Story from the Big Stories, Small Towns: Flores project) - Published Version
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Abstract

Big Stories Small Towns is a collaborative transmedia documentary project. The project ‘tagline’ is “Local Stories with Global Impact”. To that end, the aim of the Big Stories project in this iteration was to scale the work across Australia and the Asia Pacific to build a diverse and inspiring global portrait of country life.

This research spans two residencies in the Raja Ampat Regency of West Papua and on the island of Flores, Indonesia. The aim of this work was to explore mechanisms for inter-cultural co-creation with fellow filmmakers in the Asia Pacific region who could then translate the process of the Big Stories project into their communities and deliver stories to the online platform of bigstories.com.au. A key question that underpinned this research was how could the co-creative processes of the Big Stories project be translated into other cultural settings beyond Australia? Big Stories films have, in the past, supported a more nuanced understanding of small town communities and local social innovations. Discussions with filmmakers in Indonesia and West Papua indicated a range of issues that a participatory storytelling process and the resulting stories could address.

In West Papua, the project built on relationships and work undertaken by Engage Media with their Papuan Voices series (https://www.papuanvoices.net/). The lead filmmaker in residence for the Big Stories project in West Papua - Enrico (Rico) Aditjondro – had overseen the development and delivery of the Papuan Voices project and had long standing relationships and interest in the region. Rico proposed to undertake a co-creative documentary process working with a number of emerging West Papuan filmmakers.

The situation in West Papua for journalists and independent filmmakers is often problematic as West Papua has been under Indonesian occupation since 1960. Many West Papuans have been seeking a referendum on independence - 'Merdeka' - but the Indonesian government rejects the idea. Since the struggle began, thousands have been killed and imprisoned. Whilst in the 60s indigenous Papuans were the majority, nowadays they are outnumbered by migrants from various parts of Indonesia, creating continuous social political tensions. Envrionmental degradation of the area due to logging and mining has placed further pressure on traditional cultures and livelihoods of Papuan people.

Independent Papuan oriented media is actively discouraged by Indonesian authorities. One month prior to starting Big Stories: West Papua pre-production two French documentary makers (Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat) had been imprisoned while filming in the highlands town of Wamena. Based on this recent event, the Big Stories project sought to indirectly address local issues through stories of everyday life that refer to issues of maintaining culture, preserving the environment and internal issues around Indonesian migration to the area. When set against the backdrop of West Papua's struggles, the stories are intended to raise awareness of the fragile cultural, social and environmental state and to shine a light on those who are caring for and sustaining Papuan community and culture. Rico also worked with Papuan filmmakers Menas Membrasar and Ina Mayor as local content producers. Menas and Ina produced stories about inspiring teachers, traditional craftsmen and environmental workers. Big Stories supported Ina, Menas and other West Papuan creatives including FX Making to ensure that the legacy of the Big Stories project continues by facilitating them to create future projects and a filmmaking collective.

In addition to his work in West Papua Rico also identified Dodid Wijanarko as a potential collaborator. Dodid had extensive experience as a photographer and documentary filmmaker in Flores and West Papua. After discussing the project with Dodid he identified a women’s weaving collective called Lepo Lorun in Flores that had been started by Alfonsa Horeng in 1998. The collective model of self managed co-operation based on traditional weaving practices had given the women economic independence and subsequently been replicated across the island, employing over 1200 women in different collectives across Flores. The traditional weaving of Tenun Ikat embody the stories of Flores and are now being seen, beyond Flores, as works of art and cultural significance. The Ikat is present at all cultural occasions in Flores - from birth to death. Traditionally a women's worth was measured in her weaving prowess, however the Ikat is also the woman's canvas on which the stories, mythologies and relationships are captured in thread. Dodid identified Alfonsa as a ‘positive deviant’ – someone who had been able to transform her community (and a number of other communities) through local social innovations. The stories and photo essays were produced by the Big Stories team working with Indonesian filmmaker Dodid Wijanarko and a team of Indonesian filmmakers and artists who came from across the region - from Java to West Papua - to create stories, images and music with the community.

The research in Flores explores co-creativity and the production of cultural space and identity using a range of media (from the Tenun Ikat weaving to songs and films). The intention was to provide stories that could support continued growth of the collective, build community pride in the cultural of local people and could speak to broader Indonesian audiences to inform them not only of the stories behind the Tenun Ikat practice, but also re-mediate stereotypical views of Flores as an island that lacked culture and innovation.

Outputs include:

• Feature length documentary Au Lorun (I Am Weaving)

• Website created on Big Stories, Small Towns platform with short documentaries and photo essays

• Workshops on filmmaking and photography run in the community

• Local screenings and performances supporting extensive local participation

The project was sponsored by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australia International Cultural Council and Screen Australia.

Research Statement

Research Background Big Stories, Small Towns is a collaborative transmedia documentary project. The project generates stories with and by community members using mixed methods. Stories are then disseminated via a range of media. The aim of this iteration was to work across the Asia Pacific to build a diverse and inspiring global portrait of country life. A key question was how could the co-creative processes of the project be translated into cultural settings beyond Australia?
Research Contribution This research spans two residencies in Raja Ampat, West Papua and Flores, Indonesia and explored mechanisms for inter-cultural co-creation with local filmmakers. As creative director and producer, Potter's work focussed on the impact of participation in media making and defining the process and principles of production. Through a focus on local social innovators, local creatives, everyday culture and regional exhibitions, the research demonstrated the Big Stories process could be valuable to communities as it provides a framework and platform for creative expression, voice and communal organisation in challenging contexts.
Research Significance The provision of resources and a platform for production and distribution of stories created impact. The stories speak to local innovations around collective work practices, local arts and culture (such as weaving) and a focus on education and the environment. Stories have been shown across Papua and Flores and in film festivals and via the bigstories.com.au platform. In West Papua, Papuan local content producers formed a video collective following their participation in the project. One Papuan filmmaker collaborated on the Flores project. The project received competitive funding from the Australian Government through Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia International Cultural Council and Screen Australia.
Item ID: 52699
Item Type: Creative Work (Recorded/Rendered Work - Audio/visual recording - NTRO)
Keywords: participatory media, community media, transmedia, documentary, digital storytelling, West Papua, Indonesia, Raja Ampat, Flores, weaving, Tenun Ikat
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Funders: Screen Australia, Australia International Cultural Council
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2018 04:26
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200103 International and Development Communication @ 40%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190205 Interactive Media @ 40%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 50%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8904 Media Services > 890403 Internet Broadcasting @ 50%
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