River Park Garden Film Collective Documentary

The Growing Justice youth team collaborated with seven University of California, Santa Cruz undergraduate students from Instructor Emily Cohen Ibañez’s Visual Sociology class to produce a 20-minute film, the River Park Garden Film Collective documentary. Under the guidance of Cohen Ibañez, an award-winning professional filmmaker and anthropologist, the student team spent 10 weeks engaged in all aspects of documentary filmmaking— from developing relationships with their peers to determining the form of the project to pre-production, production, and post-production. The project culminated with the opportunity to premiere their film at the UC Santa Cruz “Social Fiction Conference” on Saturday February 27, 2016. The aim of this conference was to raise consciousness around issues of social justice.

In the class, Visual Sociology Video Production Lab at UCSC: River Park Garden Video Collective, Dr. Cohen Ibañez instructed the UC Santa Cruz students in documentary filmmaking techniques. They discussed methodological, practical and ethical issues of creating visual media and they learned the basics of digital storytelling — how to use digital video cameras and microphones. Then, as part of the collaborative relationship with CAN, the UC Santa Cruz students became the teachers and instructed the Growing Justice youth team in the documentary filmmaking techniques they had learned. The youth team received hands-on training in the power of storytelling.

The UCSC students and Growing Justice youth formed the River Park Garden Video Collective with the aim of making a documentary of the Mesa Verde Gardens gardeners telling their stories of migration, food justice, urban belonging, and gardening. Within the framework of their 20-minute documentary, the students collectively researched, organized, shot, edited, and presented the final project to an audience at UC Santa Cruz.

Next, in June 2016, two Growing Justice youth team members attended CAN’s 6th Annual International Youth Exchange for Food Security and Food Sovereignty in Nicaragua. There they screened the film to an audience of youth leaders from Nicaragua and Mexico.