November 08, 2022
New OWSD Visions films from Colombia and Jordan to be showcased at an in-person film event in Trieste, Italy
Trieste, Italy – The OWSD Secretariat based in Trieste, Italy, has organised an in-person event to coincide with the United Nations World Science Day for Peace and Development. On Thursday 10 November, seven wonderful short films made by OWSD members about women scientists in developing countries will be shown in Trieste at the Hotel Savoia Excelsior Palace.
Six of the films are part of the OWSD Visions project, and one film (The scientists saving Malawi's crops) was made with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the International Science Council. Many of the films have OWSD members and fellows as their protagonists, and the majority have been made in conjunction with OWSD national chapters. The general public, including students and professors interested in the general fields of science and development, will be invited to take part in discussions after watching the selected films. If you are in the area, and can understand Italian, you are very welcome to attend. Places are limited so register now at https://forms.office.com/r/FaRMxy4mhD to avoid disappointment!
The 7 short films showcase women scientists living and working in developing countries and how their contributions have transformed the living conditions of their communities. The first session focuses on Africa, with films made in Benin, Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Congo while the second session takes us around the world with 3 films set in Nepal, Colombia and Jordan. These last two films are hot off the press, having just been completed in November 2023. After each session, expert panelists will discuss the content, techniques and impact of the films and the public will be asked to comment and join in the discussion. You can view all the films currently in the OWSD Visions playlist here. We will be adding the 5 new films made in 2023 shortly (from Jordan, Pakistan, Mauritius and 2 films from Colombia).
The films focus on how scientific research can transform local communities and economies, but these are science documentaries with a difference. Each of the films has been made locally on site (in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East) by local residents trained online by Nicole Leghissa, a film maker and consultant living and working in Trieste. Leghissa explains:
“Every scientist has a story – but not every scientist is a storyteller.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, Leghissa, like many people, had to work from home—a special challenge for someone whose work relies on travelling, conducting interviews, and getting to know the subjects of her films in order to bring their stories to light. She quickly landed on an innovative solution, though:
“I started to think about OWSD Visions when the pandemic forced us to re-think the way we work and how we create. I used to travel a lot to developing countries to film scientists’ stories. The idea of transferring my experience to local filmmakers around the world came out naturally and easily. Social networks make visual stories easy to share, mobile phones make them easy to film. But science storytelling is more complicated. I felt that I could give some guidance on it.”
Working with the OWSD Secretariat, Nicole developed the concept of a training and transfer-of-knowledge programme in audio-visual story-telling, with the goal of empowering women scientists and local filmmakers to produce and show audio-visual science-stories.
Leghissa will present the films and explain the techniques and tools she developed with each of the film makers. Panel members from different areas of specialisation will respond to the films, including Ilaria Micheli, Associate Professor in African Linguistics (University of Trieste), Nicoletta Romeo, Artistic Director, Trieste Film Festival, Giovanni Ortolani, Public Information Officer (The World Academy of Science UNESCO-TWAS), and Loredana Casalis, Head, Nanoninnovation Lab Elettra Sincrotrone. Tonya Blowers (OWSD Coordinator) will moderate the discussion and invite questions and comments from the audience.
It is hoped that the films will stimulate an interactive discussion between panelists and audience about how to tell scientific stories, how to make these stories visible in film, and how to celebrate and support the important work being done by women scientists around the world.
After the films are shown panelists and OWSD staff will be available to answer any questions about the films, the OWSD Visions project and future collaborations which highlight the connections between women, science, development and Trieste! It is hoped too that this event will pave the way for OWSD to establish a national chapter in Italy, encouraging science institutes, businesses and researchers to support women scientists from developing countries.