Chilsen forges Brazilian connections for student productions

Brazil 1

Paul Chilsen, a film and video production lecturer in Media Arts, works with student Portia Mitchell while filming in Brazil.

During the summer of 2017, Media Arts Lecturer Paul Chilsen traveled with students and colleagues in Brazil.  He was asked by MTSU Anthropology Professor Dr. Richard Pace to join an ongoing program exploring media use and impacts on indigenous cultures in the Amazon River area.

Brazil 2Chilsen helped to develop and implement a two-part pilot program, taking students from the College of Media and Entertainment on location to work on independent film projects and teach the local population how to make film themselves.

“The work is an exciting first step for the college and has great potential to grow and engage many students in important and impactful field production,” Chilsen said.

Portia Mitchell, a senior in the Department of Media Arts, traveled and work alongside MTSU anthropology and archeology students, filming the excursions and learning about her fellow students’ disciplines.

The pilot program nurtured new Brazilian connections both for the college and MTSU that started last March, when Kayapo filmmakers visited the MTSU campus. On March 15, indigenous videographers Krakrax Kayapo, Pat-I Kayapo and Bepto Kayapo showed clips of their work and discussed current struggles for rain forest preservation and cultural survival in the Brazilian Amazon. The panel followed a keynote address by Elizabeth Weatherford, who organized the first Native American Film and Video Festival for the Museum of the American Indian, which became the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 1989.

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South American artists also performed in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building on March 14. The theme, “Cultural Performance and Survival from the Amazon Rain Forest,” featured female rapper Jaas, Mayan hip-hop group Balam Ajpu and musician and songwriter Pykatire Kayapo.

 Chilsen hopes to return to Brazil with film and video students in the summer of 2018.

 “The potential to engage Media Arts and other students in this kind of impactful location production can open critical new doors for understanding as well as new opportunities for international production,” Chilsen said.

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Categories: Faculty, News, Partnerships, Students

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