Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Media reports are rife with accounts about and on behalf of refugees, but there are few opportunities for self-representation. Launching in Montana, a state dotted with hotbeds of alt-right nationalism, the New Neighbors Project will initiate an unfiltered dialogue to promote mutual understanding at the intersection of different cultures.
Through a series of documentaries, music releases and live streaming performances, this citizen media initiative will infuse the observations of the state's new Congolese, Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean residents into community discourse. The Missoula-based New Neighbors Project will help recent refugee arrivals and long-time Montanans to face the new and explore the unfamiliar—together.
Our approach will be to apply the poetic structure of renga to mediamaking, which will enable a community-authored narrative.
A renga consists of several stanzas, each composed by a different poet, each seeking to find his/her own voice within a text that is jointly created and jointly owned.
The New Neighbors Project will facilitate the creation of a multimedia-renga through workshops that give refugees the opportunity to learn media production skills and employ Montana artists as they self-direct their first-person stories (stanzas). These stanzas will be uploaded to our website for serial viewing and listening, then synthesized into a larger community-led documentary that includes the voices of Montana residents – new and old.
In sharing these productions beyond the state, we hope to encourage similar citizen media projects elsewhere and seed national discourse that reflects the color of America's multicultural identity. Our first visual rengas will be posted this spring. Stay tuned for more information
All proceeds generated from New Neighbors content go back to the refugee families.
Help us to make the New Neighbors Project happen
In a forty-minute film we weave together short documentary videos that refugees from Iraq, DRC, Ethiopia and Eritrea shoot and direct as they investigate their new physical and emotional realities. These films are brought to life through participation in our three-month media production workshop, augmented with observational footage shot from our own perspectives, as Montanans.
Where your money goes:
A project like this has many built in expenses including:
- camera gear and equipment for our refugee directors
- hard drives and media storage
- post production costs such as editing, color correction, audio mastering
- transportation and lodging
- stipends for translators