Camera as Witness program encourages student activism through documentary screenings

April 27, 2014, 10:37 p.m.
Courtesy of Jasmina Bojic
Courtesy of Jasmina Bojic

For the past four years, Stanford’s Camera as Witness (CAW) program has sought to foster student activism on campus by working hand-in-hand with student leaders to spark conversation on contentious social issues.

CAW is the Stanford affiliate of The United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF), an international documentary film festival founded in 1998 that takes place each year in the Bay Area. UNAFF documentaries frequently feature themes like human rights, environmental themes, population migration, refugees and homelessness.

Jasmina Bojic, the founder of UNAFF and CAW, stated that she created the organizations because she wanted to apply documentaries to education.

“I was inspired by how documentaries can be used in a way of education,” Bojic said, before adding, “One of the reasons I decided to found UNAFF here in the Bay Area is because it is the birthplace of the United Nations, not New York.”

UNAFF has worked to support the work of the United Nations by “continuing the conversation” about human rights issues in the United States and around the world. The festival does not, however, receive political or financial support from the United Nations.

Meanwhile, CAW works directly with students to find out which international issues students want to learn about and attempt to match their interests with a relevant documentary.

“They [student leaders] ask whether we want to know a little more about living in Pakistan or in a gay-lesbian community in a different part of the world; so then we go to the CAW/UNAFF archive, get some of the films, and then talk with the filmmakers to try and get them here as well,” Bojic said.

According to Bojic, student involvement has proven critical to UNAFF’s success. For example, last February, South Korean student Youngdon Youn participated in a “Welcome to North Korea” discussion in Crothers Hall.

CAW also manages an ongoing collaboration with Crothers’ Global Citizenship theme.

“We’ll have a couple screenings where we’ll have a student and faculty member discussion afterwards,” said Adriana Baird <\#213>15, a member of the Stanford Film Society.

In a similar effort, CAW will screen “Citizen Koch” tonight and host a discussion between the documentary’s Academy Award-nominated filmmakers, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, and audience members.

“’Citizen Koch’ is about democracy in the United States, but it’s much more about the legal system, and voting, and how much we are involved in the voting process,” Bojic said.


Contact Alexis Garduno at agarduno ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

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