Site Administrator: Cheikh Darou Seck
Martin Luther King Secondary School
Text and movie by Antonio Mendoza
Going to Dakar, Senegal, was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The people we met there were exceptionally warm and engaging, and our host, Cheikh Seck, was amazing. Cheikh was well prepared and organized. He arranged two sets of workshops - the first for middle-school girls and teachers, and the second for college students and media professionals.
The facility was great for our project. We worked at the school's computer lab, which we turned into a digital movie studio.
Though the environment is Dakar is challenging - dust, sand, heat, rain, and more dust - we were able keep working even though two cameras were clogged by a sand storm originating in Mauritania. The one problem we could not surpass was a six-hour blackout in the middle of our first key editing day during the second workshop.
The afternoon that I arrived to Dakar we had an opening ceremony in which Cheikh and school director, Rouguiatou Li, introduced the My Hero Project to the Martin Luther King School.
After we screened Flying Morning Glory (on Fire), Adam Sie, The Birdmaker, and Pick Up Your Feet: The Double Dutch Show. The audience included, Mamadou Diedhiou, "The Birdmaker," and participants from both workshops.
On the first session of the first workshops we met the participants, then we separated them into groups, saw Calypso Tumblers, talked about hero movies and did Photoshop exercises.
The second day we started with Skip's camera exercises, then the groups went out to record street interviews. When they returned we taught them how to capture video, captured the footage the shot, and started editing.
On the final day of the first workshops the students finished editing their pieces, mixed their sound and added credits. We were able to subtitle one of the five interview videos produced. At the end of the day we screened the final videos to the class and selected guest.
We started the second workshop with the media professionals by screening "Calypso Tumblers". Then we did Skip's Camera Exercises. The participants separated into five groups and interviewed each other.
At the end of the day we screened the interviews. The next day we did a morning Photoshop session and the groups started planning and taping their final stories.
As soon as they returned with footage we taught each group individually how to capture and they started editing their work. Most groups recorded footage over two days, even as they started editing their pieces.
During this second workshop seven pieces were completed and four were subtitled. One successful project, The Bridge of Unity, by Cheikh Seck, is about a bridge from the city of Joal to Fadiouth that separates two communities, where Muslims and Christians, each with 50% of the population, live together in harmony (in a country that overall is more than 90% Muslim).
Another successful project. Awadi: Messenger of Truth, by Fatou Jupiter Toure and Aicha Thiam, is a portrait of an African activist rapper who is both eloquent and funky. This project should do very well in the My Hero Film Festival or in any other festival it participates.
Another successful project, Never Give Up, by Marie Dione and Moussa Seydi, is about the rehabilitation of abandoned movie theatres (and the abandoned film industry) in Senegal.
On the last day of workshops we had a screening of the completed projects with the participants and selected guests. That evening we all shared a collective sense of accomplishment as we watched all finished movies.