Ammachi Labs hosted special guest lecturer, Andrew Garton, a skilled filmmaker and producer, also strives to motivate and inspire others to serve those in need through unique modalities, such as film-documentaries. Professor Garton is an adjunct Industry Fellow, Media and Communication at the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. He has a background in community access video and broadcasting and is very committed to documenting social issues by capturing real people’s stories through film. His seminar took place on December 12, 2017.
Professor Garton exhibited his long-standing work visiting disenfranchised and impoverished rural communities in developing countries to help these communities. His documentary, “Ocean In a Drop” about the impact of broadband internet in rural India resonated with many at AMMACHI Labs. The film demonstrated how media formats can be a valuable and useful tool by which to preserve and spread with others the unique cultural art forms of many impoverished rural regions. For example, the ancient drum/musical heritage of one family in a remote village was made more widely known through Professor Garton’s alliance with the family in the producing of a film documenting their musical art tradition. In another village, the villagers responded positively to using media as a format by which to preserve ancient texts and art forms from their lineage. In still a third remote village, the inhabitants were inspired by what Professor showed to them in terms of expanding learning and meaning through internet access. Thus, the villagers took the initiative to collect scrap metals to build, by hand, a tower that would allow for internet access, opening the village to a multitude of learning opportunities as well as sharing their unique cultural treasures with other parts of the world. Professor Garton’s film documentation of such villages helps to preserve the beautiful aspects of their traditions. Such documentaries affirm distinctive cultural arts in remote villages. Professor Garton’s method exemplifies how media can be used to increase the esteem and pride of villagers in their own art forms that, in turn, motivate them to both preserve and continue their ancient art practices.
Our Ammachi Labs team shared their own experiences as well with Professor Garton, particularly with regard to introducing ICT and technology to otherwise technology ignorant communities. The seminar stimulated ideas in the Amrita participants, and motivated them in their continued work with disenfranchised rural communities.
Prof. Garton was escorted by Ammachi Labs representative and Zonal lead Sivaprasad, on a visit to Sadivayal village in Tamil Nadu. Professor Garton was impressed and encouraged by the experience with the people there, and spent time getting to know the various women’s empowerment projects. Professor Garton was in India for a screening of his film at the Australian High Commission and the Chennai Film Festival.