Baranov Museum Youth History & Film Summer Intensive
With a strong focus on museum studies, the Baranov Museum Youth History & Film Summer Intensive provides the perfect setting for students interested in documentary filmmaking. During the course of this two- to three-week program, students become ethnographers and archivists, cinematographers and orators, deeply examining their communities. With hands-on opportunities to conduct historical research, explore newspaper archives, and develop interviewing strategies, the History & Film Intensive teaches students how to curate the stories of their communities and to showcase their new skills through five-minute documentaries.
Beginning in 2012, the Summer Intensive has empowered students who would not otherwise have access to affordable summer activities to participate in a humanities-based program, thus sharing a wide range of diverse cultural experiences. Participants are chosen from a vibrant immigrant population, including Southeast Asians and Filipinos, in addition to Alaska Native youth. These young adults come together to research, explore, and create pathways that illuminate the compelling stories of their rich cultural and natural landscapes.
Over the years, students have focused lenses of curiosity on crucial community issues. For example, Kodiak Filipino Community Stories and Waves of Change: Kodiak Stories of the 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami are two courses that engaged the young historians in extensive research, before they produced their individual films. Students’ work has also focused on the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the local fishing industry and canneries—issues and topics that are often very close to the participants and their families’ livelihoods.
To create these film stories, students become deeply involved in learning about various aspects of the museum, as well as procedures for archiving information. In the process, the youth gain a greater awareness of their community’s history and their place in it. While working with the museum’s historians and curators, they also develop an understanding of how to collect, preserve, and catalogue material, as well as cite original and secondary sources. Some grow so attached to curating that they volunteer to help with the humanities-based collection, in return for a copy of a photograph they might have included in their documentary project. Students spend a significant amount of time in the Kodiak Public Library, as well. There, they learn about interviewing techniques for recording oral histories and develop more nuanced strategies for working with a camera.
Students delight in their final projects, presenting them at such professional venues as the Anchorage International Film Festival, the Media Action Film Festival, and many others. They also enjoy discussing their work on KMXT 100.1 FM Public Radio. Ultimately, these young documentarians come to value the professional atmosphere of the workweek at the Baranov Museum Youth History & Film Summer Intensive and return for multiple summers.
I liked learning about the [1989 Exxon Valdez oil] spill, but what I liked most…was the energy of the class! Learning about other people and having funny moments while we were learning—just enjoying each other’s company.Jessica Suyat participant, Baranov Museum Youth History & Film Summer Intensive