Who is Telling Whose Story How and Why - Participatory Video Between Fiction and Documentary

By Lisa Glahn and Mirjam Leuze, myView - Discussants

We, Lisa Glahn and Mirjam Leuze, are both filmmakers. For ten years we have been working with disadvantaged young people and adults in Germany and Switzerland creating films in a collaborative and participatory manner.
The underlying assumption of our work with socially marginalised groups is: A film made by people as storytellers and as protagonists at the same time gives a different perspective of and a much more intimate insight into a topic or issue. Developing the story together with the group, we have found it helpful not only to rely on the format of documentary, but also to consider fictional and experimental forms of storytelling. Fictional forms very often enable the group to be more open. The fictional form creates a distance between the participants and the story which enables them to tell the ?whole truth? without necessarily revealing too many personal facts. This protects the group members from unwanted exposure of personal information. In the following article we will outline the process of storytelling between fiction and documentary in our Participatory Video approach on based on practical examples.


Lisa Glahn is a Filmmaker, radio journalist, actress and video artist; many features and reportage for radio stations; long documentary for public TV-station and digital TV and also collaboration with NGOs and social institutions.Since 1992 educational work in theatre and film with young and adult people, e.g. with social workers and students. In the context of EsoDoc (European Social Documentary) developing a concept of Participatory Video for film educational film work. Since 2007 advanced training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) from Marshall Rosenberg.

Mirjam Leuze is a documentary filmmaker and journalist based in Cologne/Germany . She studied Cultural Anthropology and Theatre-Television and Film Science in Cologne/Germany and Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan and did a one year field research on transforming Medical Systems in Rural Kyrgyzstan. She focuses in her work on ecological and human rights topics in Europe, Latin America, Central Asia and Africa and has realized several documentaries for European television channels. With her colleague Lisa Glahn she founded myView, a Participatory Video initiative based in Cologne/Germany. Lisa Glahn and Mirjam Leuze realize films in a collaborative process with disadvantaged young people mainly in Germany and Switzerland.

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