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Havana/Miami: times are changing

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Havana/Miami is the follow up (in terms of format) of Gaza/Sderot: life in spite of everything. The production team seems to be the same: Arte Television is hosting the web-documentary conceived by Upian (Alexandre Brachet). The  French producer is Serge Gordey from Alegria who is the Executive Producer and Alex Szalat from ARTE France  is the leading Commissioning Editor. The idea is similar to Gaza/Sderot: to follow a number of people leaving on two sides of a conflict (political or religeous). Those videos are broadcasted on “normal” tv (on a full lenghth documentary), but also used to populate a website  where one can browse through people, topics or timeline.

The stories of young lives in these two cities are told through short (2 minutes long) video chronicles. The individual subjects (12 in all), are filmed by a team in Havana (Cuba) and a team in Miami (USA). These episodes do follow six people from each of the two cities over three months, starting on February 22nd, 2010.

Internet users can follow these stories via an original non-linear interface. They can watch, and respond with video, photo or written comments. Users can also send videos to friends and embed them into their own blogs and social media sites.

Find out more:

Watch the web-documentary the programme:

More web-projects from Upian

My comments:

I think Upian does some of the best web-documentaries around. Gaza/Sderot was a first in its genre: a way to use interactive media for what it is best at – linking. One can link people, ideas, lives… one can create that association that is just enough to leave some thinking space to the user. The hope is that while browsing between the lives of people from Miami or Havana (or Sderot and Gaza) one takes the time to reflect, to understand… and even to mature a point of view. The ability to propose information in such way that a point of view can be created is the magic of interactive media: it replaces the user in a responsible seat, a seat that demands a certain level of consciousness.

If I think that the interface of Gaza/Sderot was somehow more poetic and fluid (or was it the novelty effect?) I feel that Havana/Miami manages to integrate people’s comments in such a way that they become an integral part of the documentary. Normally comments are just on the side – they are an add-on that you do once you have finished viewing, but here the comments link back to the programme in a fluid way – so this encourage people to comment on the go and to really react to what they are seeing without fear of jumping out of the narrative.

While I was browsing I noticed that some users have send videos, and that those do sit at the same level of the “official” videos of the programme. I can only encourage this approach: slowly slowly the narrative is becoming authored but also opened and participative. This might be a clever model to keep some quality and editorial control while opening up a little the narrative itself.

Extremely well done, powerfull topic and… somehow important and meaningfull…

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 19th, 2010


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