Animation is a powerful documentary tool to examine topics around social equity while bypassing some of the knee-jerk reactions that can come with statistics and documentary tropes.
- National Academy of Medicine's Visualize Health Equity project, official selection and panel speaker, Washington DC, 2017.
- Chicago Onscreen: Local Film Showcase, official selection, Chicago Park District, 2017.
- Chicago REEL Shorts Film Festival, Best Documentary nomination, Chicago, IL, 2014.
- Blue Plum Animation Festival, official selection, Johnson City, TN, 2014.
Implications for future work:
- Leveraging animation can carve out a space for discussions of food access + social equity where they might not typically arise.
- Taking a resource-focused look at issues of social inequity (such as food deserts) can shed light on opportunities to support solutions, as opposed to focusing on the disparity.
- Experimental documentary can weave together several distinct methods to make an account of a social issue in a specific context.
- Animation can lower the audience barrier to projects taking advantage of non-narrative modes of communication.
Social issues like food acces are often discussed in terms of what's lacking in a particular geographic location—what outside help is needed to affect change? An asset-focused look at this issue of limited food access in Lawrence, MA, is needed to highlight existing opportunities for change within the city. This method also gives credit to local residents for their current efforts in addressing this issue, despite systemic hurdles that produce food access issues across the country. I decided to explore what this could look like through my undergraduate thesis film, A Bodega.
Over the course of 3 months, I filmed observational footage at several bodegas in Lawrence, MA, that sell produce. I conducted interviews with members of the Lawrence Mayor's Health Task Force and the owners of one such bodega, focusing on the topic of food access and the food for sale in this corner store. Over the course of 6 months, I used stop-motion animation sequences to document food bought at the bodega, illustrate dishes that local residents might make out of the ingredients, and contextualize the bodega within the city. Through an iterative process of animation, editing, and critique, I dropped some segments from the film and chose others to expand on until the final shape of the film was formed.