thumbnail of Latin American perspectives; Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964
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National Educational radio in cooperation with the Institute on man and science presents a series of talks drawn from the institute's annual conference held recently in Rensselaer Vale New York. The Institute on man and science is a nonprofit educational institution chartered by the New York State Board of Regions the annual assembly of the institute is designed to focus attention on 20th century technology and the human relationships resulting from its application. The speaker for this program is Donald do prey of the National Film Board of Canada. Mr. Du praise topic is modern media and social change. Here now is Mr Do pray. I should like to open by referring to a question which was posed to the last speaker by Dr Kling she which I believe sums up the intention of the program that I represent in the National Film Board. You will recall that I believe the question was something to the effect of the limit of man's evolution
in regards to race relations peaceful peaceful development and so on. And Dr. Blum mentioned in his in it was his feeling that the limits had not been reached as far as this type of social development. Well this program is based upon the fact that these limits have not been reached. And we for we believe that that it is the cultural differences which are restricting our evolution in this regard. And we feel that it is the traditional methods of change that have limited that that are limiting this evolution. It is our feeling that media and related technology provides the potential for overcoming these cultural barriers. Which in our present society are creating
a great deal of strife and aggravation destitution and any other words which can describe the hardships which we witness every day when we read our newspapers. When we look at our television sets or and when we when we examine any other of the electronic information we believe that we must be venturesome and that we must innovate and we must recognize that many of the restrictions which impede human development are man made. For instance as Dr. Blum mentioned academic disciplines I question my colleagues question the traditional approach to the expertise at the university level and whether by continuing to wed ourselves to this that we are not restricting our development and that we are not impeding the progress. Human awareness
which I believe the mind has the potential but which has been very superficially explored. Therefore it is our desire on this program in the National Film Board to examine electronic communication media communication technology with the view of utilizing it to remove these impediments. The substance of my talk will be to examine the approach that we are using to describe it to you and hopefully to bring about your participation so that we ourselves can benefit from our participation in this program and that we can grow because we are very humble when we present our very simple concepts.
Because we have only been in effect undertaking them for approximately one year we are only scratching the surface. So I hope you accept it in that light. I hope that and this is not an apology that you will not look upon it is anarchical or any other words which may describe the attempt to destroy but that you will accept the fact that the people who are involved with it are intensely devoted to an attempt to understand the media and its application in this area. They are concerned they are responsible and it is their intention to attempt to involve people in order that they can benefit from it. And our interest is human development and human awareness. I would like to quote to begin with. From the forward of a book by
a gentleman named Daniel Boorstin who wrote the image. Because I believe it lends itself to a good introduction to what I wish to speak about. He says I am suspicious of all mass medicines for national malaise and national purposelessness. The bigger the committee the more representative its membership the more collaborative its work the less the chance that it will do more than ease or disguise our symptoms. The problem of national purpose is largely an illusion although one of the most popular evolutions of our time our problem is personal. Well I believe this is the strongest plea for decentralization that I have ever read. But it does serve to illustrate part of the Malays which we are concerned with. For bursting goes on to say we have used our wealth our literacy our technology and our progress to create the thicket of unreality which stands between us and the facts of life. He refers to it as a form of national self hypnosis where each of us is in were each of us individually
provides the market and the demand for the illusions. Which flood our experiences communication technology has contributed overwhelmingly to this attitude. We believe it has been utilized almost exclusively to reinforce preconceived attitudes rather to unleash the potential which is inherent in the human animal. I work at the National Film Board is designed to explore the potentials of media and technology related to it with a view of harnessing it to develop human awareness not to guide it down paths which were predestined in some bygone age. If I might use a stock short quote from Max French which I discovered he says technology is so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it. It should be pointed out at the outset for it will become readily apparent that the philosophical basis of what we will discuss this week is neither unique nor very
complex In fact it is quite simple and straightforward. It is the innovation and the determination of the individuals within it which marked the difference since 1939 the National Film Board has been producing and distributing films in the national interest throughout Canada. It has been involved in the use of films in all aspects of Canadian life including education mental health labor management relations adult training family life education and on and on and on. It has undertaken to deal with these matters in a matter which would captivate the audience. In other words in an entertaining way the reputation accorded the National Film Board throughout the world reflects that this responsibility has been handled well. What we plan to do this week is to describe for you the National Film Board with a particularly careful examination of a new role which it is developing during our morning sessions we will undertake to provide you with our insights into the potential of electronic communication and the subsequent responsibilities we see for our agency.
In the evening we will provide you with an opportunity to examine some of our more recent films with a view of examining film and its traditional role as an art form expressing the particular feelings of a creative filmmaker. I make this differentiation for a very good reason creative filmmaking as reflected at Expo 67 has reached new heights. We can look only to more exciting filmic adventures in the future but nevertheless an important area has been excluded. In fact we feel never dealt with in relation to media for we feel the communication technology contains the potential of achieving human understanding which may allow us to function more effectively as human beings. It is this that we wish to speak of in the five morning sessions this week. I will attempt an overview at one program that we are involved with and my colleagues who will speak on Tuesday and Wednesday will illustrate in much greater detail specific projects within this program on Thursday and Friday.
Other colleagues will illustrate other programs presently underway within the film board and describe how they are tackling utilizing media as a vehicle to bring about real development of dignity pride self-respect and all these other words which describe human awareness and their human relations challenge for change. The program that I'm involved with is potentially the most exciting thing the National Film Board has ever undertaken. It is a solid effort to develop to examine to understand the communication technology in the media and to utilize it to develop human resources. I cannot say that enough times it is dark and it is concerned with affecting change in behavior and in attitudes by bringing about a greater understanding. The uniqueness of this program lies in the processes in which it wishes to explore. In fact one could say that the process was responsible for the creation of this program in Canada as in the United
States. We had an agency which was responsible for attempting to alleviate poverty at one point. It decided to commission the National Film Board to undertake to make a documentary illustrating the conditions of poverty in Canada. The film was completed but while this film was underway officials of this anti-poverty agency and senior filmmakers at the Film Board began to question the application of media as an agent of social change. The discussions continued throughout the spring months of 1967 and culminated in a project which would explore further these the possibilities of the media in this area. Thus came the new found and project of which you will hear a great deal more to morrow morning. I should only remark that the project was under the direction of one of our most able list filmmakers. His name is Colleen Lowe and he was responsible for our. Our presentation at Expo 67 last year. Labyrinth. So from this you can appreciate the importance that he felt for it because he was prepared to commit a year or two of his life to
explore this area almost as soon as the project was underway. It became apparent that the potential was beyond any expectations. Over the summer a group was gathered together a few more films were shot and a great deal of internalising took place in late November a meeting of the of a new team a new team took place and from this meeting evolved a sort of manifesto which marked the beginning of challenge for change. The months since that meeting have been marked by long hours of work many meetings contacts around the world and especially throughout the country and excitement wherever the concept has been described. Before I move into the substance of my remarks I must reiterate an important feature as I have mentioned the National Film Board is a government agency. It is committed to experimenting with media to better understand its potential as a vehicle of change although it does not undertake to organize the people it does undertake to equip professionals both from the government sector in the private sector to undertake
to utilize media more effectively to bring about meaningful participation by people in the destiny of their lives. Inherent in this is the question of the so-called integrity of a government agency possibly generating criticism about the government in power. Traditionally such a role would never have been accepted but we feel that the only hope for our democratic process is for government to become human. I should like you to think about this for I wish to return to it at the end of my remarks. Now I wish to go into the points we set down at our November meeting in order to describe to you in greater detail the innovations we are undertaking which for us reflect a remarkable amount of excitement in the utilization of media. First of all we decided to dispel the confusion about the focus of the program challenge for change. We should from
now on emphasize that films being produced under the auspices of this program aim to explore document and question processes of social change and evaluate their consequences. That was a remarkable a remarkable innovation within the National Film Board and a remarkable innovation as far as filmmaking was concerned. It was an innovation because traditionally the media had been utilized for one purpose and that was to promote programs not to question them. It was too. It was a form of propaganda. And now we were saying that the media held the potential of penetrating projects programs whatever was taking place. Recording what was taking place and providing us with an opportunity to evaluate that to better understand it and thereby to bring about necessary changes because of an understanding not because of intuition. We also decided that the word poverty should be avoided in connection with this program because we felt that it was not that it was not only the product of
poverty was not the product of those of the poor or the people in low income areas. We're all we're all poor mentally in some way. Therefore we chose to call the the program challenge for change and we chose to trends and every economic level of our social structure because we felt that possibly the greatest problems lay not within the lower income but within the middle and higher income levels. We went on to say that a concentrated effort must be made to attract a great number of filmmakers into this program. This was unusual as well because what we were talking in terms of here was an integrated approach to filmmaking. This was that this was breaking down this was breaking tradition in the film board because in the film board the filmmaker had being the unique individual who decided what he was going to make and how he was going to make it. Whereas in the private sector the man who put up the money was the one who decided what he was going to make and how he was going to make it. Well what we were saying was that we've got to bring these two people
together and they have to bring to bear their knowledge in the field and collectively they have to decide how they're going to approach a particular a particular subject area. You have no idea the pain that we have gone through in order to attempt to break down this tradition within our filmmakers because our filmmakers are wedded to sell you Lloyd because our filmmakers feel that they they are threatened by this. They feel that if they are given the freedom of making what they want to make there is potentially little question of failure because you cannot they can always say interpret it the way you want. What we were telling we weren't telling our filmmakers we were inviting them to come onto the program with us to immerse themselves into a subject and to bring their creative skills to bear on attempting to understand what was taking place in that environment. In addition we went on to say it is felt that during the coming year we should involve
ourselves in media experimentation in order to improve the quality of films as well as their effectiveness through the use of more creative and imaginative techniques. In other words we want to come to grips with communication technology and try to understand its application. What we were saying is that we were not going to be wedded to film. We were going to use slides and film strips and Videotape and television. We were going to use every conceivable technology that was available in order to come to grips with this. The utilisation and the understanding of the utilization of this material. We went on to say that it is suggested that the guidelines for us for specific film activity should arise out of the need or urgency to develop visual materials which will aid the process of change in a particular subject area. Once a general subject area has been selected it should be thoroughly researched and final decisions on specific film proposals should arise directly out of these preliminary investigations. Information gained as a result of the investigation should indicate what kind of films should be made what approach should be used to ensure the
strongest impact and the best potential audience or audiences for the film. Again we broke with tradition in the past a little group an elite group within our organization had decided what films we should make. While we were committed to participation in the part of people they were the ones who understood their needs. So we brought people together. We asked them what their needs were. And then within the limitation of our resources we have attempted to fulfill the needs that they described for us. And while the film is being made we brought the film back to them and we showed them the film and we had their comments on tape. So we use technology in order to evaluate. We didn't go back to the filmmaker and say filmmaker that film doesn't do this this this this and this you better change it because that's propaganda. We recorded the feelings of the people and took that recording back and allowed the filmmaker to listen to it and from that he gained an impression of the effectiveness of his of this particular tool. And in this way we began to alter and to change our approach to meeting the needs
of the people that the people expressed. We went on to say that it would be desirable not to become involved with the production of all types of films. The rationale behind this is the following. As we have become more involved with the program the complexity of the subject matter has become more apparent and the avenues open to exploration have multiplied. We run the risk of attempting to do a little of everything in spreading our creative energies and financial resources so thinly that we reduce our effectiveness as promoters of social change. It is recommended therefore that we concentrate on producing films which will create an impact with specific audiences rather than films directed at one mass audience. This would limit the production of feature type theatrical films and permit greater flexibility in the limited use of our resources. At the at our disposal for experimentation and new kinds of film activities. Well here is another thing that we were saying were saying here. We began to question the effectiveness of making a film for a general audience. We began to wonder. Given the people in North America have been
exposed to television on mass since 1956. What type of effect that was having when we put one of our films on for half an hour as we did or an hour as we did last Sunday evening and on the Canadian network we began to wonder what impact is that having we're spending $75000 to make that film. If you'll just turn it on and turn it off. As they would turn on The Beverly Hillbillies or they would turn on anything else. We began to question whether we were not dissipating the utilisation of media in such a way that it was having no significant effect on a short term basis and really no particular effect on a long term basis upon attitude. It was just one and it's a it's a point which we've discussed with social scientists in which they say well you know you can't really prove it and so on and so forth and we've decided that well we're going to have to take we're going to make a decision we're have to we're going to have to attempt to examine a more profound utilisation of the media and therefore we've broken with that. And what we're doing now is attempting to make material which individuals relate to specifically. In other words I would come into this
group and film this group with a view of utilizing the film with this group not with a view of it of exposing this group to other people because we question the value of exposing this group to other people and of the cost and all the other inherent things in in attempting to do that. But if we filmed this group in their discussions and brought that film back and exposed this group to themselves We wonder if this might not in fact not only be a revelation but provide insights breakdown defense mechanisms and in fact create an atmosphere of communication which otherwise is not possible to to to bring about. We've experimented with this and one of the films you'll see this evening is a film that we utilized in in relation to race really in reference to race relations in a in a small city in Halifax Nova Scotia where we filmed a group of young people and young negro and white people talking about discrimination in Halifax. Then we brought that film back into
that community and we showed the power structure in that community that film and they reacted. But we took the film to Windsor Ontario where there are also problems and race relations and they didn't react at all because they said that's a problem in Halifax it's not a problem here so we don't have the answer yet. But that film didn't cost us very much money because as you will see cinematically it's nothing because as McLuhan says the medium is the message. Well in film as Expo revealed what we have to do now in order to involve people in the medium is we have to make the media more exciting. We have to have better sound effects. We have to have better visuals bigger screens more screens and the cost is astronomical. Some of those films at Expo cost a hundred thousand dollars a minute. Our film on Halifax cost us $2000 because we just recorded these kids sitting around a table talking but the medium was the message because the people identified with them
because they saw them on the street the day before or they were describing things which were parts of the lives of those people there. We felt the content was the media and thereby the medium was still the message. We don't want to say it should be stated that we are not just in the business of making films but that the film should be seen primarily as tools to improve and expand the systems of communication between people particularly those who are actively involved in the development and implementations of programs of planned change. Substantial efforts must be made to involve not only professionally trained filmmakers in the program but others who are working towards effecting social change. And this is where this whole process of integration of a team took place. We go on to say that our experiences this year have indicated that the use of a piece of film as a prime instrument of change or as a supportive tool in the change process is greatly enhanced when the production and utilisation of films are integrated into a total project involving
a variety of activities. And this describes our programme which you will hear more about tomorrow. The New Finland programme. Therefore we said we should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that we achieve complete unification of the production utilization processes in all future programmes. And this is possibly the most exciting innovation of this programme and its a very simple one and that is that we just we felt that possibly if we involve the people in the process of making the media. By involving them in that process they would become involved in a discovery of themselves and of their environment and therefore again we began to say that we shouldn't be concerned because of the expense of the technology to always make a film about an environment and therefore rush out to use that film in as many other environments as possible so that we can justify its expense. But we should begin to consider the fact that the end product may not be very important. It may be the process that's essential.
Again I come back to this analogy. We had a community. It was a small island. There were 10 little communities on this island and these 10 communities didn't talk to any of the other communities. Six different school boards six different religions sort of a microcosm of our country. We felt that Canada maybe of the United States as well. We felt that if we could go in with a professional agency that was working there and utilize the technology as the vehicle which could bridge the communication possibly we might bring about a discovery about themselves and their problems that otherwise it would be impossible to achieve. I've just been told of it. Therefore what we undertook to do is we we took our filmmaker in there and he lived in that community for a month and a half with a professional group that was working there. And then after they became familiar with him he brought in a camera man and he lived with them for another month
or a few weeks or however much time it was and then they began to film the people in their everyday lives. Simple film but they asked the people first of all what do you think we should film. And they forced the people unknowingly to make a decision as to priorities in that community. And then after they'd filmed the people they brought all the community together in say community AA and they said look at this two hours of film and we can't show two hours of film. Let's try to reduce it to 20 minutes that's what an editor does. But rather than have the editor try to impose his feelings as to what he thought the people wanted we asked the people to help us make the decisions. Again they were involved in the process they were involved in decision making and by involving them in decision making. They became involved in the issues of their community. They became involved in the issues which were determining their lives. Very very important. This is not restricted to film. Can be done more effectively with video tape. They're doing it in style we we've attempted to do in schools with with film strips. Well we get children to draw
in a class to draw 50 pictures each child as a picture and then we say let's make a film strip out of this. But we only take 10 pictures. You've got to decide which pictures to take. Well in the decision of which pictures are going to take they're making all kinds of value judgments they're discovering things and they're discovering things themselves nobody is imposing upon. Then they make the film strip but that's not important enough and we can burn the film. We don't need it anymore. We say we've kept it because we use it as an example but it's served its purpose and we feel that here lies possibly an exciting innovation and utilization of media. You heard Donald do pray of the National Film Board of Canada as he spoke on the topic. Modern media and social change. Mr. Do pray spoke at the annual conference of the Institute on man and science held in Rensselaer bill New York on our next program. W. Warren wagered professor of history at the University of New Mexico will discuss the subject of Cosmopolitan
morality. These lectures are recorded by the Institute on man and science. The programs are prepared for broadcast and distributed by the national educational radio network.
Latin American perspectives
Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on "Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964" by Thomas E. Skidmore.
Series Description
A series of comment and analysis about current affairs in Latin American countries.
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-3-39 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:24
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964,” 1968-08-30, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives; Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964.” 1968-08-30. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives; Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from