‘Conflict sensitive’ docu debut in this year’s Mindanao Film Fest

Dec. 11, 2014

By Ralph Lawrence Llemit, Davao Today Intern

DAVAO CITY – Student documentaries adapting conflict-sensitive journalism (CSJ) debut in the big screen in this year’s 10th Mindanao Film Festival, presenting social issues like teenage pregnancy and bullying.

Among the festival entries were the Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC) films Sawsaw, Uno Sais, Ang Paglaum ni Elian and Barbie which have integrated the CSJ framework, a methodology being popularized in other countries.

The four student films fall under the Escuela Cinema, a college level category, gathered in one screening block.

These documentaries were earlier awarded by forumZFD Civil Peace Service, a German non-government organization that promotes peace by creating and strengthening instruments and methods for non-conflict transformation.

Former local television news anchor, and currently HCDC Mass Communication instructor, Derf Hanzel Maiz, himself attended a CSJ seminar organized by forumZFD in July this year and has since integrated the framework in his Mass Communication classes.

Maiz admitted that he had difficulty teaching what he learned in his practice, not until CSJ was introduced.

Today, he said that “attaining an objective documentary is now easy, thanks to this presented framework”.

Ross Howard, author of the Handbook for Conflict Sensitive Journalism, is one of those who advocates and trains journalists all over the world through series of forum and workshops.

In his book, he emphasized that if journalists would be trained to analyze the theories of conflict and the skills to analyze conflict, he or she will be able to be more effective in professional journalism.

For Howard, by using CSJ, “the one reporting or laying down the issue is trying to resolve the conflict by looking closely at all sides and reports on how conflict would be resolved. A conflict sensitive journalist takes no sides, but is engaged in search of solutions.”

Maiz said that “Presenting your stories would be much relevant and easy to outline if you are guided by the conflict-sensitive journalism (CSJ) tools, it is easy for you to outline your story and you are assured that your story would be fair and balanced”.

Last semester, Maiz and forumZFD chose the four HCDC documentaries to showcase different issues that are very rampant in the society.

Sawsaw deals with the issue of the sanitation and hazard issues of street foods; Uno Sais is a documentary about teenage pregnancy and discusses why it is a current trend in the present society; Ang Paglaum Ni Elian discloses the deprivation of basic services, including education, to the indigenous people in Marilog District; and Barbie is about a young girl who has been a victim of bullying because of her physical mishaps due to a fire incident.

In a forum held during the special block screening at Cinema 6 of Gaisano Mall last December 4, Katja Guerten, forumZFD civil peace service project manager, shared her insights on how CSJ can change the course in responsible media practice not only in the Philippines, but also around the world.

“Media has a great influence in disseminating information. Through these presented framework tools, we could improve and change the course of journalism especially in the influence of resolving conflict,” Guerten said.

She said the present state of the media worldwide has become “too mainstream”.

“What is wrong with the media right now is that most of the bad news are the ones that sells in the market, most especially the gory ones. Sometimes, not all stories are well represented, not all sides and angles are well illustrated,” Guerten said.

Christine Joy Bajao, writer and director of Barbie, felt grateful for the opportunity to have their story shown in this year’s Mindanao Film Fest because it is “one way of helping these students who are victims of bullying”.

“This is how we do our part in minimizing bullying. We go deeper to the issue. We produced her story so that her voice would be recognized,” Bajao said.

Jandiane Esteban, Ang Paglaum ni Elian host, is also thankful for learning CSJ.

“As aspirants, we are very much thankful and privileged to be using CSJ in presenting our stories, especially in our produced documentary. Through this, we would not be able to trigger or add on to the conflict, rather we would be able to provide solutions to settle the issue,” Esteban said.

Students from different schools in Davao region along with their professors come to attend the said block screening.

With the success of its cause, not only mass media and communication major subjects instructors who attended the CSJ forum will be including it in their classroom discussion, but also those in the student publication.

The Mindanao Film Festival is an annual celebration wherein it screens a number of films produced by regional filmmakers across Mindanao (Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, central Mindanao, General Santos and Zamboanga).

MFF is organized annually by the Mindanao Film and Television Development Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the National Commission for the Culture and Arts. (davaotoday.com)

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