Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum
Sri Lankan Development Journalist Forum (SDJF) is a well established national level organization, with more than 7 years of extensive experience in promoting the role of media in democratization and transformation. We work closely with local media organizations, International media development agencies, civil society organizations, youth and women development movements and organizations that promote democracy and pluralism towards better transformation. Media for Transformation, Community Media for Inclusive Development and Training and Capacity Building are the major programme areas of Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum. The Democracy, Equality, Social Justice and Inclusiveness are the cross-cutting themes of SDJF.
SDJF in partnership with Prathiba Media Network (PMN) in Matara organized a Participatory Video Storytelling program for 20 selected youth in the Matara District. The main objective of this program is to build the capacity of 20 potential youth, In producing community video on issues affecting underprivileged communities in Matara, and disseminating them through social media and also to engage youth as active contributors of democratization by rising their voice on issues affecting their society.
The first training of this community video storytelling was held from 9th to 11th January 2015 at the Rural Development and Management Training Centre, Dickwella. The training was conducted by M.C. Rasmin, Director of SDJF. During this training the youth were given a clear understanding about community video storytelling and they were taught ways in which they could develop stories for these types of videos.
Youth were involved in indoor and outdoor activities and they mentioned that this has been a unique opportunity for them to learn a new method of storytelling. They believe that it is very important to engage the community in order to present their own issues.
The next training of this program will be held from 29th to 31st of January and the youth will be given the technical expertise in making community video storytelling.
With an aim of building the capacity of 30 potential youth on community video, and to encourage them to tell the stories of the people who are not voiceless but desperately voiceless, SDJF in partnership with Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) organized a participatory community video storytelling programme in Kandy. The first training of this programme was held from 19th to 21st of December 2015 and the training was conducted by Dr. Vasuki Belawadi, Department of Communication, and University of Hyderabad. In the first training youth were able to learn about the elements, usage, effectiveness and strategies of community video.
The second stage training workshop was held at the American Corner in Kandy from 15th to 18th January 2016. The training was conducted by two well known Journalists in Sri Lanka, Mr. Ruwan Bogamuwa and Mr. Ahamed Usama. Both of them have worked as Senior Producers at Young Asia Television and also have great experience in producing, filming as well as conducting trainings in journalism, capacity building, community video storytelling and short film making.
The second stage of the training included video production techniques including basic shot compositions, lighting and audio basics, operational procedures for shooting video and television interviews etc. The trainers conducted practical sessions for the participants where they were given shooting assignments in groups. Youth mentioned that they were able to gain lot of experience during these practical exercises. Especially they were able to discuss with the trainers about the stories for their community videos and they were assigned to take the footages and were also instructed about appropriate shooting elements for the particular stories.
The third stage of the training will be starting on the 6th of February 2016 and the training will be focused on editing the footages of the youth by giving them practical sessions on editing and story development.
A residential training workshop on short film was organized by Rural Economic and Community Development Organization (RECDO) in partnership with Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum (SDJF), National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka Foundation (SLF). This training was held from 3rd to 5thof January 2016 at the Western Province Aesthetic Resort in Colombo.
The main objective of this training was to build the capacity of 30 young short film makers from Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim backgrounds who were selected for the National Short Film Competition to be held before May 2016, under the theme of ‘capturing reconciliation’.
Youth who are already in the field of film making and university students who are involved in short film and theatre were selected for this competition.
One of the purposes of the training was to provide skills and knowledge for young short film makers as to how to produce short films promoting co-existence towards better reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
The first day of the training was conducted by Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardena, a trainer in peace building and M.C. Rasmin, Director of SDJF and the youth were given an introduction and knowledge on basic democratic values such as peace, pluralism, diversity and tolerance as well as developing potential stories for short films.
On the next day,one session was carried by Vimukthi Jayasundera, a well-known film director, screenwriter and visual artist. This session was based on his experience in local and international film industry especially focusing on concept development. Vimukthi mentioned “Every artist should be able to reflect his or her inner thoughts in producing a creative piece of work”. Speaking further about the film industry in Sri Lanka, he stated “The Sri Lankan film industry has an enormous tendency to copy Indian Film work and we, as an island can definitely produce our own unique style of film making. Neither India is our competitor nor we should compete with India.” The next session was on contemporary digital technology in producing creative ideas which was conducted by Upali Gamlath, a Sri Lankan film director.
On the final day of the training, Dhanushka Gunathilake, Senior Lecturer of the Digital Film Academy section of the Sri Lanka Foundation carried a session on comparison of creativity and quality of international short films and later discussed how the concepts and technology in those films can be used in making short films in Sri Lanka.
Thereafter a session on handling camera, identifying potential plots, using visual language, and identifying forms of short films was conducted by M.D. Mahindapala, a famous Sri Lankan cinematographer who later carried an interactive session with the youth supporting them in developing various concepts in their short films.
Young artists were highly satisfied with the training they received especially on the principals of short film making, basics of film technology and pre and post production. These young artists are expected to produce a short film within three months highlighting the theme of “capturing co-existence” in their work.
SDJF was honored to present at the Asia Consultation on "Gender & Militarism: Linking Regional Analysis to Local Practices" in Manila, Philippines from 7th to 9th December 2015. This Consultation was organized by the Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) & Center for Peace Education Miriam College. During this consultation, 30 civil society leaders and academics from across 13 countries gathered and discussed topics such as militarism as colonial heritage, countering religious extremism in Asia, counterterrorism measures & digital security, and changing militarized societies through peace education.
The presentation by the SDJF at the Consultation was on “Engaging youth in addressing religious extremism and promoting religious pluralism in Sri Lanka through Radio Drama and Forum Theatre”.
On December 9th, WPP and the Center for Peace Education held a Public Event, to present the findings of the Asia Consultation. This Public Event was facilitated by Jasmin Nariho-Galace, the Executive Director of the Center for Peace Education. The Keynote Message was delivered by Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. The outcome and discussions of consultation was presented by Dr. Paula Banerjee, Professor from the University of Calcutta.
25 young community activists from Sri Lanka were trained on participatory community video storytelling by the SDJF in partnership with the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA). This training program was designed to build the capacity of the young community workers to engage people in their own societies to tell their stories that are important to them, their societies and their country through the use of community video.
The first phase of the training session on Participatory Community Video Storytelling began with an inauguration on 15 December 2015 at the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya.
The chairperson of Sri Lanka Development Journalist Forum Professor Wanigasundara, in his key note address, stated that the community video was an effective tool to mobilize local knowledge, resources and potential to solve issues affecting the process of development in Sri Lanka. He also noted that the PGIA, being the first Postgraduate Institute in Sri Lanka was very much committed to work with the civil society on community development.
In his inaugural remarks, Prof. S. Samitha, the director of the PGIA noted, “Though the PGIA offers courses for the postgraduates, itsexpertise has been expanded to focus the civil society as well. He added that the PGIA was very pleased to have partnered with the SDJF and Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) which funded this program.
Dr.VasukiBelavadi, Associate Professor and Faculty Fellow, UNESCO Chair on Community Media, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication, University of Hyderabad facilitated the training as chief trainer. Speaking at the inauguration, Dr. Vasuki noted that he was very pleased to be in Sri Lanka to share his expertise with youth on Community video. In a context where marginalized communities do not find equal representation in the mainstream media, community video has been a potential tool to bring out their unheard voice.
The participants learnttheoretical aspects coupled with practical exercises. Thought-provoking discussions on the role of community video in addressing people issues by the people for the people played a pivotal role in bringing them together irrespective of their rich diversity.
In the meantime, the participants visited to the village- Udadeltota to practice their learning of mapping social issues. Having finished their visit to the village, they shared hands-on-experience on the basic principles of community video- engaging community persons, creating a sense of ownership, building cross-cultural collaborations, encouraging community members to participate in exploring solutions for their issues, writing script and pulling it all together.
The field visit, in fact, provided a forum for these budding community video makers to explore the possibility of practical application of what they had learnt in the workshop. Story boarding and conducting interviews were also taught to them.
The first phase was adjourned with an air of emotion and the participants are awaiting the second phase of this venture to fill their appetite for community video making.
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The SDJF began a community video training program in Kandy with the purpose of uplifting the capacity of 30 youth who are passionate about learning the use of community video in telling the stories of their own societies. Majority of them were from Kandy.
The first three days of a 10-day training program started on 19th December at the American Corner, Kandy. The SDJF partnered with the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture (PGIA) to conduct this training.
The first phase of the training conducted by Dr. Vasuki Belawadi, Department of Communication, and University of Hyderabad provided a unique opportunity for the young video lovers to learn about the elements, usage, effectiveness and strategies of community video. The youth were trained in contextualizing the concept of community video, using diversity of the Sri Lankan society.
Prof. W.A. D. P. Wanigasundera, the chairperson of SDJF noted in his inaugural remarks that Community video should not only be used to address the issues in the communities. Other great potential like art, culture, heritage, traditional medicine, ago-systems, sports, etc. could be captured through community video as well.
Further speaking, he noted, “Unfortunate events usually make headlines in the mainstream media that is unhealthy for the progress of the Sri Lankan society. It is extremely important to find unbiased stories while engaging community members in narrating their concerns. It is the sole responsibility of community video activists to remove techno-phobia of the community members in order to encourage them to voice their concerns actively.”
The workshop that attracted the budding youth proved very absorbing and exhilarating for the participants. Handling audio-visual equipment appeared to have thrilled them. They all expressed their burning interest to use the gained knowledge for the betterment of the society. Moreover, the program was designed to shape the perspective of youth role in taking part in community development.
The second phase of the training will commence in mid-January, 2016.