Editorial: Dad's undying life-lesson

by Paloma Giustizieri

As a 6-year-old girl, curly-haired and chubby, I would run around the house with my dad’s Sony DCR-TRV260. His home videos were the first exposure I had to a camera. My dad would film everything from holiday trips to us getting ready for school in the morning. I fell in love with film when he passed; it gave me something to look back on, almost like he was still with me.

Film has elements of audio, visual and storytelling. It evokes emotion. Watching a piece can take you back to a moment in time, which lasts much longer than a memory. My love began there but as I got older it expanded.

As a teen, I would listen to a lot of spoken word poetry on Button Poetry’s YouTube channel. Alyssia Harris created a short film based on this unconditional love she has for an ex-boyfriend. The black and white visuals were stripped of colour, which gently complimented her soft tone in the poem. I watched this 3-minute video once a day, for 365 days. I knew that when I would eventually leave high school, this was the kind of content I would like to create as a profession.

In the same breath, documentary making is yet another skill I am working on mastering. From topics such as profile pieces on people to elephant documentaries on National Geographic, there is a wide range of stories I want to tell.

Throughout my time at the University Currently Known as Rhodes (UCKAR), I have centered the content I have created on the adequate representation of all identities. I believe that there are gaps in mainstream media that exclude plus-size bodies, that do not acknowledge the fact that gender is a spectrum and perpetuate cultural appropriation. The media still gives publicity and support to people who disrespect and abuse other people. I have always been an activist for marginalised people’s rights and in turn, have wanted to create a platform to share their stories.

I joined Activate in my first year and have been writing on and off for the independent publication. My passions have always lied in telling other people’s stories. For example, I wrote a profile piece on a fashion Journalist named Sitha Kentane, who is excelling in her field and working for Elle Magazine.

Currently, I am working on a television news piece that tackles the topic of 200 years of the European settlers in Makhanda. Here we are speaking to a team from the history department who are working in conjunction with theatre practitioners to tell untold stories of this period in time 200 years ago. This team has come together to approach the communities in and around Makhanda to gain information that is not in history textbooks. Hence, telling untold stories.

There is beauty in sharing stories of those who have not been able to tell their own whether it is because other perspectives overshadow their own, or they do not have a platform on which to share. As a journalist, I truly believe that we have a role to fulfil in giving those stories a place where they belong, a place to feel acknowledged.

Storytelling is a form of creating a safe space for the characters of such stories; it is about creating something concrete that you can go back to with a few clicks of a mouse. For me, film and storytelling is about showcasing emotion. Whether I tell my own stories, stories of loved ones or stories of the community, I want to portray that emotion.

My dad taught me that every moment in life is to be cherished. Film and photography lend itself to that one simple lesson. When we are growing up, we look back on where we have come from and look forward to where we are going. This, put simply, is beautiful. I will become the documentary maker that I have always dreamed of being. I will share these untold stories and fulfil my father’s last lesson to me.

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