Here are the slides I had prepared for my paper presentation at the Conference “Mauritius after 50 Years of Independence: Charting the Way Forward” which was held from 28 to 30 June 2017 at the University of Mauritius in collaboration with the Mauritius Research Council.
I have recently been embarked onto a research project entitled “Revisiting the linguistic and ethnographic specificities of Rodrigues” together with sociolinguists Arnaud, Yannick and Yani and ethnographist Daniella. The project was officially launched in Rodrigues in September when we had our first visit. We also conducted a workshop with potential collaborators there as well as some preliminary fieldwork for the research.
The last time I had been in Rodrigues was in 2000 for our honeymoon. So this 2016 visit was an opportunity to meet a large variety of people and talk about life on the island and how it has evolved over the past few years.
Somehow, since I was the only one who brought a decent camera thanks to Avinash, I turned out to be the official photographer over the 5 days we spent there. Though I do not master the techniques as much my husband, I enjoyed capturing the ambiance and expressions of people within their natural environment. I ended taking almost a thousand pictures (which led to much headache for selection and processing). So, here are a few interesting pictures from these encounters:
This 72 year old small shop owner recognised his family on a picture taken in the 1970’s by French researchers.
We went past the bead curtains into people’s living rooms.
This man’s face and eyes carry so much intensity, in contrast with his very quiet and serene environment.
This man seemed very intimidated in the beginning but turned out to have a very smiling and open expression for the camera.
I loved the idea of taking portraits on people’s doorsteps under their dainty curtains.
The oldest woman I met during the trip opened up to me about her life story, how she waited for her husband throughout war, and how life was hard, yet she courageously went through the challenges.
The old man and his boat. He was mending fishing nets in a very windy weather when we met him.
This dynamic woman with her grandchild eagerly accompanied us to meet her brother (the old man near the sea).
Local chicks strolling by under posters of foreign chicks at a hairdressing saloon.
I just loved this article snippet which says everything and nothing at the same time!
The famous “boudoute”, literally a very tough cookie that should be soaked in tea and tastes a bit like “pain d’épices”.
The “Chasive sur pattes” is having a siesta!
A tiny corlourful house in a vast area of empty rocky lands that gives a strange sensation of freedom.
Finally, our team with officials of the Rodrigues Commission for Arts and Culture.
Discussing the Mauritian short films
On Wednesday, we started by discussing the Mauritian short films which we saw at the official launch of the film festival, namely Phone Connection by Sophie Robert, Boutik by Damien Dittberner and Rod Zegwi dan Pikan by Azim Moollan.
We were all pretty impressed by the aesthetic style of Moollan and the technical feat of taking over 700 celluloid photos, processing them, chemically and physically degrading them to obtain an eerie/dreamy effect, the painstaking task of detourage and compositing to achieve the parallax effect as well as the sound design.
Viewing Safety First
We also watched the black and white comedy Safety Last (1923) by Harold Lloyd from the silent era.
Unfortunately, I was unable to watch until the end as I had to meet up with another workshop facilitator for our students. But I could see that Lloyd was an excellent director and actor with brilliant mise en scène and the use of incredible stunts. Lloyd is less known than Chaplin and Keaton as he jealously guarded copyright over all his movies and would never cede rights below his asking price.
Participants were later asked to present their story ideas for an assignment to be completed by Friday: a very short film made up of only 5 shots with a maximum of two actors to be shot on the campus. There were some very interesting ideas, which I will not reveal until the films are actually made…
Screening of Eco-Clips
At lunchtime, I ran to the Eco-Clip session being hosted by the Indian Ocean Commission. We saw short films made on mobile phones on the theme of sustainable development.
Participants came from Madagascar, Reunion, Seychelles, Zanzibar, Comoros and Mauritius.
Workshop with Mohamed Said Ouma
In the afternoon, Journalism Yr 3 and Communication Yr 4 students listened to the very wise words of Mohamed Said Ouma, a seasoned journalist, film director and festival organiser.
Mohamed explained that he considers himself to be a child of the Indian Ocean as he was born in Reunion to Comorian parents who came from Madagascar. He has studied and worked as a journalist in London. The key advice he gave to aspiring journalists is to be multi-skilled (in terms of technical tools) but to have a specialisation (in terms of area/beats) in order to demarcate themselves.
Screening of Tim Skousen’s documentary
The day ended with a screening of Tim Skousen’s documentary film: Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made which tells the story of three 11 year old kids who decided in 1982 to remake shot for shot the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark. It took 7 summers of their life to do that except for one last scene which they shot after 25 years in 2014.
Tim’s film documents their passionate re-enactment of the Spielberg movie, an adventure rife with all sorts of funny events as well as major difficulties. Avinash, Anya and Kyan were also present and we all thoroughly enjoyed the film and liked Tim’s advice to ABC (Always Be Creative) and finish what you start and show it to the public.
Yet another long and eventful day at the film festival Île Courts 2015 on the university campus!
Day 2 of the film making workshop by Tim Skousen followed the same pace as Day 1. We discussed text (plot/story) and sub-text (message/moral) and watched extracts of Peter Berg’s Hancock and Mike Nichol’s The Graduate as well as the complete movie The Nightcrawlers by Dan Gilroy. The latter is a very interesting critique of the media world and the society of spectacle.
Participants were asked to brainstorm on the key things which they thought are relevant to Mauritius. As you can see from the picture, the whiteboard was quickly covered with words which expressed the perceptions, feelings, worries and aspirations of the five young Mauritians.
They then had to draw connections between ideas which they thought were related and explain why. This led to the inevitable explanations about the Mauritian setup: our ethno-religious groups (what we call ‘communities’), our struggle to define a national identity as well as other more universal social issues such as inequality, corruption, power struggles, drugs, politics, etc.
Tim advised the aspiring film makers to use their insights about the society they live to find story ideas. Based on the idea board, he quickly came up with two stories as you can see on the board.
In the afternoon, Tim used a long scene from The Graduate to talk about dramatic structure in a screenplay. Typically, the screenplay should show that characters have goals they want to attain, use particular strategies to attain these goals and, if they cannot, will change their strategies in case they are unsuccessful (indicated by beats, i.e. new information, dramatic action or element).
We finished by working on a commercial Tim is currently making for a big brand name in the US. We analysed the script and had to propose a list of shots and edits using a storyboard to help visualise what the shooting and final edit should look like.
It was a quite intensive day but well worth it!
Today was a very interesting day at the workshop on film making with Tim Skousen, an American director who has made award-winning films and commercials.
There are 5 aspiring Mauritian film makers from very varied backgrounds who are attending, all of them young but whose passion for telling a story with images is very much alive.
Tim Skousen presented the different facets of film making in a very structured way, from directing actors, cinematography (including shots, POVs, gaze, camera movement, lighting), editing, sound design and music to production design.
All the while, he was showing extracts of a wide range of movies starting from the Lumière Bros’ L’Arroseur Arrosé, Georges Méliès’ Voyage sur la Lune, and Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery. We also watched closely extracts from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey, John Hugues’ The Breakfast Club and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive.
Quite a feast for the eyes and the mind as he proceeded to provide some very insightful analysis of key scenes!
We were also asked to work in teams of 3 to make a short film with only 3 still shots. And here’s what our team did in under 30 minutes (to find the right idea, find a girl in the classrooms around to act the role, and finally shoot the scenes):
We’re looking forward to the next 4 days!
To find out more about how the University of Mauritius is involved in the film festival Île Courts 2015 and for the programme, read
The University of Mauritius
Faculty of Social Studies and Humanities
in collaboration with UNESCO-IPDC
requests the pleasure of your company at the
of the book ‘Ethical Journalism and Gender-Sensitive Reporting’
and of A Gender Code of Ethics for the Media
on Monday 10th June 2013 at 13 00 hrs at the R. Burrenchobay Lecture Theatre (RBLT), University of Mauritius
Guests are kindly requested to be seated by 12 50 hrs
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Please note that a free copy of the book (including the code) will be subsequently distributed to all journalists and media houses. A registration list will have to be completed on the day of the launching.
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13.00 Welcome Remarks by Mrs Christina Chan-Meetoo, editor and convenor
13.05 Assoc. Prof. Jocelyn Chan Low, Dean, FSSH
13.10 Prof Soodursun Jugessur, GOSK, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council
13.20 Hon. Dr R. Jeetah, Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research & Technology
13.35 Hon (Mrs.) M. F. M. Martin, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare.
13.50 Launching of the book by Hon. Jeetah and of the code by Hon. Martin
Registration of journalists for copies of books